The greatest blessing on this side of Heaven!
(John MacDuff, "Encouragements to Patient Waiting" 1864)
God's children have found that suffering times were blessed times — that they never had such nearness to their Father, such holy freedom with Him, and such heavenly comforts from Him — as under affliction; it only took away what checked the current of His love, His peace, and His joy in their hearts.
The afflictive cross, be it what it may — pain, sickness, calamity, loss of friends, fortune, fame — is the greatest blessing on this side of Heaven — because by it the Father . . .
keeps His children in the closest communion with Him,
purges them of vanity,
makes them partakers of His holiness,
increases their graces,
crucifies the life of sense,
deadens them to the world, and
mortifies their lusts and sinful passions!
As the outward man perishes — the inward man is renewed day by day. In times of affliction, they . . .
receive new life, new strength, new comfort, new peace;
become more and more conformed to Jesus;
tread the steps of those who have "entered into rest," and
come up "from the wilderness leaning on the arm of the Beloved One."
Christian, take comfort when you think of the mighty cloud of witnesses who would thus testify to your Savior's constant care and unchanging love!