I have suggested already that if our spiritual good be promoted, this is of far greater account than our temporal prosperity; worldly riches are of so little account in the eye of God, that he generally throws them away upon his worst enemies; he opens the stores of the world upon the basest of mankind. Nebuchadnezzar, that great heathen prince, acknowledged that kingdoms themselves were thus bestowed; which shows that God does not estimate that good at any high rate; but when he speaks of spiritual good, mark how he estimates it: “Thus saith the Lord, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; where is the house that ye build me? and where is the place of my rest? All these things hath mine hand made, and all these things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word.” What is this but saying God will overlook heaven and earth to spy out the broken and the contrite heart? which shows that he values spiritual good, real grace, true penitence and purity of heart, as of greater account than all creation together. Now if afflictions tend to the producing spiritual good to them that love God, if this can be proved, the grand point that I undertook to prove is accomplished.
Let me observe then, if the trials, the adverse events of life, make us more humble, is not that good? If they furnish us with matter for importunate prayer, is not that good? If they render the truths and promises of God more seasonable and precious to us, is not that good? If they increase our stock of Christian experience, is not that good? If they wean us from earth and promote heavenly-mindedness, is not that good? If they fit us for greater usefulness one to another, is not that good? Finally, if they “work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” is not that good?
Well, let us attempt to prove then that such are the effects which even the adverse events of life, in the hands of the divine Spirit, produce in us, if we love God, and are the called according to his purpose.
Is it not a fact that the trying and adverse events that befall the godly have ever been known to operate in a way of humility? God humbles us by this means. Man is a poor proud creature, little cause as he has to be so, and it is not possible that he should be truly humble, but by the humbling hand of God. Perhaps Job was as modest, as upright, as humble a man as we should expect to find, if not much more so; and yet, when God’s hand came to be laid upon him by a succession of trials, how different did he feel to what he had ever done before: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes: once have I spoken, but I will not answer; yea, twice, but I will proceed no further.” It is by something that lays hold on us that our hearts are appalled, and our spirits brought down. Jeremiah says, “The wormwood and the gall my soul hath still in remembrance.” If the remembrance of it, probably several years afterwards, would humble him before God, what must the endurance of it have done?
Fuller, A. G. (1988). “All Things Work Together for Good,” Sermon XXXIII in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, p. 388). Sprinkle Publications.