It did not take so long because it is a difficult read, but because it deserves focused attention.
143 pages of truth - reality - and encouragement for the heart and mind desperately looking for peace.
The last chapter is the perfect capstone to the book.
I share some of it here.
(Every quote was written or spoken by Charles Spurgeon.)
Chapter 12: The Benefits of Sorrow
"To be cast down is often the best thing that could happen to us."
Six years prior to his death, as he looked back over his life, he startles us with his perspective regarding the use of suffering to do good in life.
"I am sure that I have run more swiftly with a lame leg than I ever did with a sound one. I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than I ever saw in the light, - more stars, most certainly, - more things in heaven if fewer things on earth. The anvil, the fire, and the hammer, are the making of us; we do not get fashioned much by anything else. That heavy hammer falling on us helps to shape us; therefore let affliction and trouble and trial come."
Sorrows enable us to better receive blessings.
"This very casting down in the dust sometimes enables the Christian to bear a blessing from God which he could not have carried if he had been standing upright."
Sorrows shed our pretenses.
"When this downcasting comes, it gets us to work at self-realization ... When your house has been made to shake, it has caused you to see whether it was founded upon a rock."
Sorrow exposes and roots out our pride.
"We are very apt to grow too big. It is a good thing for us to be taken down a notch or two. We sometimes rise too high, in our own estimation, that unless the Lord took away some of our joy, we should be utterly destroyed by pride."
Sorrow teaches us empathy for one another.
"If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others ..."
Sorrows allow small kindnesses to loom large.
"You know, dear brothers and sisters, how a little act of kindness will lift us when we are very low in spirit ... even a tender look from a child will help to remove our depression."
"It may be, that you suffer from a mental sickness in the form of depression of spirit. Things look very dark, and your heart is very heavy ... When life is like a foggy day - when providence is cloudy and stormy, and you are caught in a hurricane ... When your soul is exceedingly sorrowful, and you are bruised as a cluster trodden in the wine-press, yet cling close to God, and never let go of your reverent fear of Him. However exceptional and unusual may be your trial, yet, with Job whisper these words, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
I love the last line of the book.
The sun may not rise for a few hours yet. But here amid the waiting hours, the sorrowing have a Savior.
What a beautiful truth.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows; ... Isaiah 53
Thank You, Father, that no matter how low we fall, You are there to lift us up over and over again as many times as we need You because You PROMISE You will never leave us or forsake us. What a precious, precious truth we can cling to when it feels like the light will never break through the darkness. But the light always breaks through, because YOU are the light of the world. You understand our grief, You have felt our pain and experienced our sorrows. And You love us. Oh, how much You LOVE US! Thank You, Father. You are so good to us. And You are all we need.