We used to sing a little song about the Lord:
He gives me joy in place of sorrow,
He gives me love that casts out fear,
He gives me sunshine for my shadow,
And beauty for ashes dear.
In order to bring forth the sweetness, there has to be some suffering. To bring about the beauty of the flame, something must go to ashes.
Blessings come from suffering—”beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). This is borne out so well in Hebrews 12, verse 11, which says: “Now no chastening seems joyful for the present, but painful: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
It’s like a giant hand taking a honeycomb and squeezing it—and out comes the honey. Or it’s like when Moses smote the rock: The rock received a blow, but out came the water (Exodus 17:1-7). The heart of stone has to be broken before the water [of God’s Spirit] can flow out to refresh the people. It’s like a beautiful flower that’s pressed and crushed, but out comes the perfume. Or like the beautiful music that comes from the throat of the bird, almost as though it’s in pain, yet it comes forth with song. Even though the bird’s song may be sad, it’s so sweet. The groans are not murmurs, but songs of praise and thanksgiving to God—a sad, sweet song! As the great poet Shelley once said, “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts!”
We could never appreciate the light unless we had once been in darkness. We couldn’t appreciate health unless we had been sick. We can’t appreciate joy until we’ve known sorrow. We can’t appreciate God’s mercy until we’ve known the Devil’s justice.
(Prayer:) Lord, help us not to fight Your crushing, Your bruising, Your smiting. Help us not to quench that beautiful song, even if it’s sad, to thank You in spite of the sorrow. Help us to be willing to be smitten and crushed under Your hand, to be squeezed and to be bruised, to be in agony of spirit, that we may give forth Your sweetness, Your fragrance, Your beauty, Your song, Your refreshing waters. Out of what seems like defeat, come some of Your greatest victories!
“[God] comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
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