When Joseph’s brothers threw him into the well (desiring his demise), they did not comprehend what a great sin they had committed. However, when God later allowed them to be overcome by hardship, they confessed and admitted that they were rightly suffering everything on account of their sin against their brother: “And they said to one another, ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (Gen. 42:21). Do you see how much benefit issues from adversity? Do you see how hardship gives light to the blind and wisdom to the unlearned?
The Apostle Peter did not want to allow Christ to wash his feet because he was unaware his Teacher’s sensible and judicious intent. As Christ Himself attested: “What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know thereafter” (Jn. 13:7). But when Jesus warned Peter that he would not have any part with Him if He does not wash his feet, the disciple stood motionless in fear and allowed Christ to wash his feet. Similarly, at present you are uncertain of the Lord’s objectives as He washes you with the cleansing waters of suffering and hardship; however, one day, when you witness the radiance and glory that your soul has been adorned with, after being immersed in the bath of sorrows, you will thank your all-wise Lord. For if He had not given you a bath, you would have no part with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Up until the prodigal son possessed his paternal inheritance and wealth, he splurged in luxury, he entertained himself with food and drink, he carried out all his sinful desires, and never even once thought of repenting (cf. Lk. 15:11-20). However, when the wise physician cauterized him with the flame of hunger, famine, and poverty, he abandoned the pleasures of the flesh and quickly returned to his paternal home, much wiser and more mature.
What the mill stone does to wheat, what the grinding wheel does to steel, and what the furnace does to silver, this is precisely what life’s various trials and sorrows do to man: they purge him of all unsightly imperfections and polish him to a brilliant shine.
Since difficulties and sorrows are so advantageous and are the cause of such benefit for us, why should we foolishly detest them? Why shouldn’t we instead thank and glorify the unerring heavenly Physician Who sends them to us in order that we may acquire the health of our soul, just as we thank and gladly pay the physicians who heal our body?
Blessed is the person who realizes that life’s difficulties are sent to us by the Lord for our salvation, and who gratefully embraces them with pleasure.
—from the book The Salvation of Sinners