“… if we know anything of growth in grace, and desire to know more, let us not be surprised if we have to go through much trial and affliction in this world. I firmly believe it is the experience of nearly all of the most eminent saints. Like their blessed Master they have been “men of sorrows, acquainted with grief,” and “perfected through sufferings.” (Is. 53:3, Heb. 2:10.) It is a striking saying of our Lord, “Every branch in Me that beareth fruit, my Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2.) It is a melancholy fact, that constant temporal prosperity, as a general rule, is injurious to a believer’s soul. We cannot stand it. Sicknesses, and losses, and crosses, and anxieties, and disappointments seem absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful, and spiritual minded. They are as needful as the pruning knife to the vine, and the refiner’s furnace to the gold.
They are not pleasant to flesh and blood. We do not like them, and often do not see their meaning. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Heb. 12:11.) We shall find that all worked for our good when we reach heaven. Let these thoughts abide in our minds, if we love growth in grace.
When days of darkness come upon us, let us not count it a strange thing. Rather let us remember that lessons are learned on such days which would never have been learned in sunshine. Let us say to ourselves, “This also is for my profit, that I may be a partaker of God’s holiness. It is sent in love. I am in God’s best school. Correction is instruction. This is meant to make me grow.”
… All things are growing older: the world is growing old; we ourselves are growing older. A few more summers, a few more winters, a few more sicknesses, a few more sorrows, a few more weddings, a few more funerals, a few more meetings, and a few more partings, and then — what? Why the grass will be growing over our own graves!
Now would it not be well to look within, and put to our souls a simple question? In religion, in the things that concern our peace, in the great matter of personal holiness, are we getting on? DO WE GROW?”
(J.C. Ryle, Holiness, Fleming H. Revell Company, p. 98- 99.)