(Thomas Brooks, "Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod" 1659)
"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees!" Psalm 119:71
A gracious soul secretly concludes: As stars shine brightest in the night — so God will make my soul shine and glisten like gold, while I am in this furnace — and when I come out of the furnace of affliction. "He knows the way that I take; and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold!" Job 23:10
Surely, as the tasting of honey opened Jonathan's eyes — so this cross, this affliction, shall open my eyes. By this stroke, I shall come to have a clearer sight of my sins, and of myself, and a fuller sight of my God!
Surely this affliction shall proceed in the purging away of my dross!
As surely as plowing the ground kills the weeds, and harrowing breaks hard clods — so these afflictions shall kill my sins, and soften my heart!
As surely as the plaster draws out the infectious core — so the afflictions which are upon me shall draw out . . .
the infectious core of pride,
the infectious core of self-love,
the infectious core of envy,
the infectious core of earthliness,
the infectious core of formality,
the infectious core of hypocrisy!
Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will crucify my heart more and more to the world — and the world to my heart!
Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will keep pride from my soul!
Surely these afflictions are but the Lord's pruning-knives, by which he will bleed my sins, and prune my heart, and make it more fertile and fruitful. They are the means by which He will rid me of those spiritual diseases and maladies, which are most deadly and dangerous to my soul!
Affliction is such a potion, as will carry away all soul-diseases, better than all other remedies!
Surely by these afflictions, I shall be made more a partaker of God's holiness!
As black soap makes white clothes — so does sharp afflictions make holy hearts.
Surely by these, God will communicate more of Himself unto me!
Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will draw out my heart more and more to seek Him! "In their afflictions they will seek me early!" Hosea 5:15. In times of affliction, Christians will industriously, speedily, early seek unto the Lord.
Surely by these trials and troubles, the Lord will fix my soul more than ever upon the great concernments of the eternal world!
Surely by these afflictions, the Lord will work in me more tenderness and compassion towards those who are afflicted!
Surely these afflictions are but God's love-tokens! "As many as I love — I rebuke and chasten!" Revelation 3:19. So says the holy Christian, "O my soul! be quiet, be still — all is sent in love, all is a fruit of divine favor."
Afflictions abase the carnal attractions of the world, which might entice us.
Affliction abates the lustiness of the flesh within, which might else ensnare us!
By all of the above, affliction proves to be a mighty advantage unto us.