Soul Food

Light

May the wisdom and hope of these dear saints encourage your hearts as they have mine. We may live in a dark world, but his light shines brighter.

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Take the very hardest thing in your life, the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot.
—Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross

The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present. … And how do I know that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone.
—Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

It grew harder and harder. There was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy. But…one thing became increasingly clear. And that was the reason the two of us were here. The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God.
—Corrie ten Boom,The Hiding Place (recalling her time spent in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp)

Spare not the pain
though the way I take
be lonely and dark,
though the whole soul ache,
for the flesh must die
though the heart may break.
Spare not the pain,
oh, spare not the pain.
—Ruth Bell Graham, Clouds are the Dust of His Feet

When it costs most we find the greatest joy. We find the darkest hours the brightest, and the greatest loss the highest gain. While the sorrow is short-lived, and will soon pass away, the joy is far more exceeding, and it is eternal. … In the presence of bereavement, in the deepest sorrows of life, He has so drawn near me that I have said to myself, “Is it possible that the precious one who is in His presence can have more of the presence of God than I have?”
—Hudson Taylor

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
—Amy Carmichael, If

The deep of misery calls to the deep of mercy; the deep of transgression calls to the deep of grace. Greater is the deep of mercy than the deep of misery. Therefore let deep swallow deep. Let the deep of mercy swallow the deep of misery.
—Girolamo Savonarola (Italian Dominican preacher martyred in 1498), Reformation Commentary on Scripture

Let no incident of life, pleasing or painful, injure the prosperity of my soul, but rather increase it.
—Christmas Evans, sermon from the early 19th century

I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable. . . . Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.
—C.H. Spurgeon, The Complete Works of C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 34

May I not instruct thee in my troubles, but glorify thee in my trials.
—Valley of Vision, page 133

It has everything to do with God and his grace that sustains—not just over the long haul, but grace given in tiny moments, like stepping-stones leading you from one tick of the clock to the next. And the beauty of God’s grace is that it squeezes those hard moments together, eclipsing the years until one day you look over your shoulder and all you see is five decades of God at work. Try as you may, you cannot recall the horror of it all—grace softens the edges of past pains, choosing only the highlights of eternal importance. What you are left with is peace that’s profound, joy that’s unshakable, and faith that is ironclad. It is the hard but beautiful stuff of which God makes your life.
—Joni Eareckson Tada, The Scars That Have Shaped Me

Grant me thy blessings with bitter things,
to brighten and quicken me,
not to depress and make me lifeless.
Valley of Vision, p.140

The weightiest end of the cross of Christ that is laid upon you, lieth upon your strong Savior. For Isaiah says that in all your afflictions he is afflicted [63:9]. … Glad may your soul be, even to walk in the fiery furnace, with one like the Son of man, who is also the Son of God. Courage up your heart; when you tire, he will bear both you and your burden [Psalm 55:22].
—Samuel Rutherford, Letters (1628)

God has seen to it that [in my life] there has been a certain measure of suffering, a certain measure of pain. And it has been out of that very measure of pain that has come the unshakable conviction that God is love.
—Elisabeth Elliot, Suffering is Never for Nothing

Untried faith is such little faith that some have thought it no faith at all. What a fish would be without water, or a bird without air, that would be faith without trial.
—C.H. Spurgeon, The Trial of Your Faith: Sermons on 1&2 Peter and Jude

Not only this valley but all their earthly past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. … That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.
–C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

If Christ be not in view, there is nothing but wants.
—Isaac Ambrose, Looking Unto Jesus

Oh, the soul of man is more worth than a thousand worlds! It is the greatest abasing of it that can be—to let it dote upon a little shining earth, upon a little painted beauty and fading glory—when it is capable of union with Christ, of communion with God, and of enjoying the eternal vision of God.
—Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks