A benefit of suffering: it exposes sin

Thomas Boston [The Crook in the Lot] writes of a number of benefits of our suffering and afflictions — the crooks (or bent, difficult pathways) in our lots (the circumstances of our lives that have been allotted to us.  One of those is the exposure of sin in our hearts:

There are some corruptions in every man’s heart, which lie, as it were, so near the surface, that they are ready on every turn to rise up; but then there are others also which lie so very deep, that they are scarcely observed at all. But as the fire under the pot makes the scum rise up, appear on top, and run over; so the crook in the lot raises up from the bottom, and brings out such corruption as otherwise one could hardly imagine to be within. Who would have suspected such strength of passion in the meek Moses as he discovered at the waters at strife, and for which he was kept out of Canaan? (Psa. 1-6:32-33) Or so much bitterness of spirit in the patient Job, as to charge God with becoming cruel to Him? (Job 30:21) So much ill-nature in the good Jeremiah, as to curse not only the day of his birth, but even the man who brought tidings of it to his father? (Jer. 20:14-15) Or such a tang of atheism is Asaph, as to pronounce religion a vain thing? (Ps. 73:13) But the crook in the lot, bringing out these things, showed them to have been within, how long so-ever they had lurked unobserved. And as this design, however indecently proud scoffers allow themselves to treat it, is in no way inconsistent with the Divine perfections; so the discovery itself is necessary for the due humiliation of sinners, and to stain the pride of all glory, that men may know themselves. Both which appear, in that it was on this very design that God made the long-continued crook in Israel’s lot in the wilderness; even to humble them and prove them, to know what was in their heart. (Deut. 8:2)

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