A profoundly insightful excerpt from Archibald Alexander’s “Thoughts On Religious Experience.”
“As the dispensations of God towards His children are exceedingly diverse in different ages; likewise His dealings with individual believers who live at the same time are very different. Why it is so we cannot tell; but we are sure that He has wise reasons for all that He does. In some cases pious people appear to pass through life with scarcely a touch from His rod; while others, who to us do not appear to need more chastisement than those, are held the greater part of their life under the heavy pressure of affliction, with scarcely any intermission. Here is a Christian man who has nearly reached the usual termination of human life, and has hardly known what external affliction is in his own experience. Prosperity has attended him through his whole course. But there is a desolate widow who has been bereaved of her husband and children, and has neither brother nor sister, nephew nor niece, and for eight years has been confined to her bed by wasting and painful disease, and has no hope of relief on this side of the grave.
We are not competent to form an accurate judgment of the sufferings of different people.Such a disparity is striking; but we see only the outside of things. There are sore afflictions of the mind, while the body is in health. That man may have had severer chastisement of the mind—than this afflicted, desolate widow. I have heard an aged Christian declare that though he had experienced much sickness, lost many dear friends, and met with many sore disappointments in life, his sufferings on these accounts were not to be compared with the internal anguish which he often endured, and of which no creature had the least conception. This shows that we are not competent to form an accurate judgment of the sufferings of different people. Besides, when affliction has been long continued, we become in a measure accustomed to it and, as it were, hardened against it; but when we judge of such cases, we transfer our own acute feelings to the condition, which are no correct standard of the sufferings, of the patient under a lingering disease.”