The Puritan writer Matthew Henry must be one of the most quotable of all the Christian authors. He had an amazing ability to grab ahold of a great text or a great doctrine and to reduce it to a few sentences that beautifully sum it all up. Recently I went looking for what he said about suffering, and found a few powerful quotes.
He never intended this world for our rest, and therefore never appointed us to take our ease in it. This travail is given to us to make us weary of the world and desirous of the remaining rest. It is given to us that we may be kept in action, and may always have something to do; for we were none of us sent into the world to be idle. Every change cuts us out some new work, which we should be more solicitous about, than the event.
The calamities of the righteous are preparing them for their future blessedness, and the wicked, while their days are prolonged, are but ripening for ruin. There is a judgment to come, which will rectify this seeming irregularity, to the glory of God and the full satisfaction of all his people, and we must wait with patience till then.
What life or light can we look for from those who have no light or life themselves? God tries what less judgments will do with a people before he brings greater; but if a light affliction do not do its work with us, to humble and reform us, we must expect to be afflicted more grievously; for when God judges he will overcome.
The reasons why the judgments of God are prolonged is because the point is not gained, sinners are not brought to repentance by them. “The people turn not to him who smites them,” and therefore he continues to smite them; for when God judges he will overcome, and the proudest, stoutest sinner shall either bend or break.
God usually gives a morning of opportunity before he sends a night of calamity, that his own people may be prepared for the storm and others left inexcusable.
And one final one: “Those who will not be persuaded now to fly to the arms of divine grace, which are stretched out to receive them, will not be able to flee from the arms of divine wrath, which will shortly be stretched out to destroy them.”