If we know anything of growth in grace, and desire to know more, let us not be surprised if we have to go through much trial and affliction in this world…. It is a striking saying of our Lord, “Every branch in Me that beareth fruit [My Father] purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15.2). It is a melancholy fact, that constant temporal prosperity, as a general rule, is injurious to a believer’s soul. We cannot stand it. Sickness and losses and crosses and anxieties and disappointments seem absolutely needful as the pruning-knife to the vine, and the refiner’s furnace to the gold. They are not pleasant to flesh and blood. We do not like them, and often do not see their meaning. “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12.11). We shall find that all worked for our good when we reach heaven…. When days of darkness come upon us, let us not count it a strange thing. Rather, let us remember that lessons are learned on such days, which would never have been learned in sunshine.
J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Carlisle, PA: EP Books, 2011), 94.