It is good for a man to bear the yoke of service, and he is no loser when it is exchanged for the yoke of suffering. May not severe discipline fall to the lot of some to quality them for their office of under-shepherds? How can we speak with consoling authority to a situation which we have never known? The complete pastor’s life will be an epitome of the lives of his people, and they will turn to his preaching as men do to David’s psalms, to see themselves and their sorrows, as in a mirror. Their needs will be the reason for his griefs.
As in the case of the Lord himself, perfect equipment for his work came only through suffering, and so must it be for those who are called to follow him in binding up the broken-hearted, and loosing the prisoners.
Souls still remain in our churches to whose deep and dark experiences we shall never be able to minister till we also have been plunged in the abyss where all Jehovah’s waves roll over our heads. If this be the fact – and we are sure it is – then may we heartily welcome anything which will make us fitter channels of blessing. For the elect’s sake it shall be joy to endure all things, and to bear a part of – ‘that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church’.
From C.H. Spurgeon, The Sword and the Trowel, May 1876