by Thomas Watson
When God puts his children to the school of the cross, he deals with them tenderly, because he does not leave them without a promise, "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able." He will not lay a giant's burden upon a child's back — nor will he stretch the strings of the instrument too much, lest they should break. If God sees it good to strike with one hand, he will support with the other; either he will make the faith stronger, or render the yoke lighter.
God has never promised a charter of exemption from trouble — but he has promised to "be with us in trouble." Better be in a prison with God's presence and God's promises — than be on a throne without them.
A true Christian finds comfort in God's afflicting rod, "as sorrowful — yet always rejoicing." A Christian is like a bird that can sing in the dark days of winter, as well as in the lightsome months of summer.
God made for some of the martyrs, a prison as sweet as a garden of flowers — what then will Heaven be! If afflicting mercy is so great — what will be crowning mercy!
Christians mistake in supposing that, when God afflicts, he ceases to love. Affliction is his pruning-knife. He would rather have the branches of his vine bleed, than be unfruitful. He prunes us, that we may bring forth "the peaceable fruits of righteousness."
No vessel can be made of gold without fire. Just so, it is impossible that we can be made "vessels of honor," unless we are melted and refined in the furnace of affliction.
God's rod is a pencil to draw Christ's image more distinctly upon us. It is good there should be a symmetry between the Head and the members. To be part of Christ's mystical body, we must be like him, "He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Hence it is good to be like Christ, though it be by sufferings.
The loadstone of mercy does not draw us so near to God as do the cords of affliction.
Affliction is a bitter root — but it bears sweet fruit, "It yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness."
Affliction is God's flail to thresh off the husks, not to consume the precious grain.
There is more evil in a drop of sin, than in a sea of affliction!
The more the diamond is cut — the more it sparkles. The heavier the cross is — the heavier is the saint's crown.
The vessels of mercy are seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in.
In all our crosses, God has a kindness for his people. As there was no night so dark but Israel had a pillar of fire to give light — so there is no condition so cloudy but there is the light of consolation. David sang "of goodness and mercy."
Affliction is a badge of adoption; it is God's seal by which he marks his own people. A holy man, suffering severely from some wounds, pointing to them, said, "These are the jewels with which God decks his children."
As the painter mixes with his dark shadows bright colors, so does God mingle the dark and bright colors — his crosses and his blessings — and so causes "all things to work together for good to those who love him."
God usually lets it be darkest before the morning star of light and cheerfulness appears.
God has a hand in affliction — but no hand in sin. Afflictions are sharp arrows — but shot from the bow of a loving Father.
God had one Son without sin — but no son without stripes. God puts his children to school at the cross, and there they learn best. God's children sing most sweetly when God hedges up their way with thorns, Hosea 2:15.
There are encouragements to suffer afflictions — but none to commit sin.
Fiery trials make golden Christians, Proverbs 17:3.
Although affliction has a sting to wound — it has wings to fly, Isaiah 35:10.
When the wind of affliction blows upon the believer, God is in the wind. When the fire of affliction kindles upon him, God is in the fire to sanctify, to support, to refine.
A true Christian carries Christ in his heart, and the cross on his shoulders.
The Apostle Paul had his prison songs. When the saints taste most of the wrath of man, they feel most of the love of God.
We think God cannot favor us except he has us in his lap. Yet he loves his people when he is giving them the bitter drink of affliction. God's rod and God's love, they both stand together. It is no love in God to let men go on in sin, and never smite. God's greatest curse, is when he afflicts not for sin. Let us feel God's hand, so that we may have his heart.
Christ and his cross are never parted, for it is too much for the Christian to have two heavens — one here, and one hereafter.
In every cloud a child of God may see a rainbow of mercy shining; thus God chequers his providences, and mingles goodness with severity.
The goldsmith loves his gold when it is in the furnace, and so does God love his children when he places them in the crucible of affliction. It is only to separate the dross, not to consume the gold. "Whom he loves, he loves to the end."
The deluge brought the dove to the ark — the floods of sorrow make us hasten to Christ.
God only threshes the precious wheat — but he burns the useless chaff. He chastens the righteous — but he condemns the wicked.
The nature of affliction is quite changed, when experienced by a godly man. It is to him, by Divine chemistry, turned into a blessing; it becomes a love-token, a badge of adoption, a preparatory to Heaven.
The cross, although it be of God's laying, is of our making. "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him."