Do You Believe that Suffering is God’s Gift?

In writing to a mother bereaved of her child, James Henley Thornwell (a 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor and theologian) eloquently describes the ways that suffering and affliction is God’s gift to us (cf. Philippians 1:29):

…let nothing keep you from the pure consolations of the gospel of Jesus. In your present situation, religion proposes to you her sweetest cordials. You can understand the gospel now. Affliction has revealed to you the vanity of man, the deceitfulness of life, the certainty of death, the instability of all sublunary [belonging to this world] good; and in striking contrast presents the unchanging perpetuity of an unchanging state, and the glories which await the child of faith. You can now almost advance by strides toward the heavenly kingdom. And if earth is rendered less pleasant, Jesus more charming, and heaven more desireable, by the dark providence which has called you to mourning, you will bless God through all eternity for His chastening rod. (Life and Letters of James Henley Thornwell, page 241)

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