Acts 14:22: "That we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God"
There are few things in the spiritual history of the child of God more really helpful heavenward than sanctified trial. He treads no path in which he finds aids more favourable to advancement in the divine life, circumstances which contribute more to the development and completeness of Christian character—the teaching, the quickening, the purifying—than the path of hallowed sorrow; sorrow which a covenant God has sent, which grace sanctifies, and which knits the heart to Christ. The atmosphere is not more purified by the electric storm, nor the earth more fructified by the descending rain, than is the regenerate soul advanced in its highest interests by the afflictive dealings in God's government of his saints. 'Sweet are the uses of adversity' to an heir of heaven. Its form may appear 'ugly and venomous', for 'no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous'; nevertheless it 'bears a precious jewel in its head', for 'afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby' (Heb. 12:11). Affliction is to the believer what the wing is to the lark and what the eye is to the eagle, the means by which the soul mounts in praise heavenward, gazing closely and steadily upon the glorious Sun of righteousness. Chastening seals our sonship, sorrow disciplines the heart, affliction propels the soul onward. We should have a more vivid conception of the power of affliction as an ingredient of holiness if we kept more constantly in remembrance the fact that all the afflictive, trying dispensations of the believer are covenant dispensations, that they are not of the same character nor do they produce the same results as in the ungodly. They are among the 'sure mercies of David'. In the case of the unregenerate, all afflictions are a part and parcel of the curse and work naturally against their good; but in the case of the regenerate, they are, in virtue of the covenant of grace, transformed into blessings and work spiritually for their good. Just as the mountain stream coursing its way meets some sanative mineral by which it becomes endowed with a healing property, so afflictions, passing through the covenant, change their character, derive a sanctifying property, and thus become a healing medicine to the soul.