Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest. (Jeremiah 45:3)
Affliction gives us through grace the inestimable privilege of conformity to the Lord Jesus. We pray to be like Christ, but how can we be if we are not men of sorrows at all, and never become the acquaintance of grief? Like Christ, and yet have never traverse through the veil of tears! Like Christ, and yet have all that the heart could wish and never bear the contradiction of sinners against ourselves, and never say, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death!” O sir, you know not what you ask. Have you ever said, “Let me sit on Thy right hand in Thy Kingdom”? It cannot be granted to you unless you will also drink of His cup and baptized with His baptism. A share of His sorrow must precede a share of His glory.
Once more, our sufferings are of great service to us when God blesses them, for they help us to be useful to others. It must be a terrible thing for a man never to have suffered physical pain. You say, “I should like to be that man.” Ah, unless you had extraordinary grace, you would grow hard and cold, you would get to be a sort of cast iron man, breaking other people with your touch.
No; let me heart be tender, even be soft, if it must be softened by pain, for I would fain know how to bind up my fellow’s wound. Let my eye have a tear ready for my brother’s sorrows even if in order to do that, I should have to shed ten thousand for my own. An escape from suffering would be an escape from the power to sympathize, and that were to be deprecated beyond all things.
(Charles Spurgeon, At the Master’s Feet, April 29)