Tribulation is the way to triumph. The valley-way opens into the highway. Tribulation’s imprint is on all great things. Crowns are cast in crucibles. Chains of character that wind about the feet of God are forged in earthly flames. No man is greatest victor till he has trodden the winepress of woe. With seams of anguish deep in His brow, the “Man of Sorrows” said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation”–but after this sob comes the psalm of promise, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The footprints are traceable everywhere. Bloodmarks stain the steps that lead to thrones. Sears are the price of sceptres. Our crowns will be wrested from the giants we conquer. Grief has always been the lot of greatness. It is an open secret.
“The mark of rank in nature.
Is capacity for pain;
And the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetest of the strain.”
Tribulation has always marked the trail of the true reformer. It is the story of Paul, Luther, Savonarola, Knox, Wesley, and all the rest of the mighty army. They came through great tribulation to their place of power.
Every great book has been written with the author’s blood. “These are they that have come out of great tribulation.” Who was the peerless poet of the Greeks? Homer. But that illustrious singer was blind. Who wrote the fadeless dream of “Pilgrim’s Progress”? A prince in royal purple upon a couch of ease? Nay! The trailing splendour of that vision gilded the dingy walls of old Bedford jail while John Bunyan, a princely prisoner, a glorious genius, made a faithful transcript of the scene.
Great is the facile conqueror;
Yet haply, he, who, wounded sore,
Breathless, all covered o’er with blood and sweat,
Sinks fainting, but fighting evermore
Is greater yet.
(Originally from Streams in the Desert)