Blessed is that chastening which being fruitful in us makes us also fruitful. It brings forth the ‘fruit of righteousness’; not natural, and therefore impure fruit, but fruit such as God himself may accept—holiness, purity, patience, joy, faith, love, and every Christian grace. It does not make the Christian more righteous in the sense of justification, for he is completely so in Christ; but it makes him more apparently so in the eyes of onlookers, while he, through his experience, exhibits more of the character of his Lord. Note again, that this righteous fruit is ‘peaceable.’ None so happy as tried Christians—afterwards. No calm is more deep than that which follows a storm. Who has not seen clear shinings after rain? God gives sweet banquets to his children after the battle. It is after the rod that he gives the honeycomb; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after passing the wilderness we come to the House Beautiful; after we have gone down the Valley of Humiliation, after we have fought with Apollyon, the shining one appears to us and gives us the branch which heals us. It is always ‘afterwards’ with the Christian. He has his best things last, and he must be expecting, therefore, to have his worst things first. It is always ‘afterwards.’ Still, when it does come, it is peace, sweet, deep peace. What a delightful sensation it is, after long illness, once more to walk abroad; though perhaps, you are still pale to look upon, and feeble in body, you walk out of doors and breathe the air again; you can feel your blood leap in your veins, and every bone seems to sing out because of the mercy of God. Such is the peace which follows long and sharp affliction.
For meditation: If you are Christ’s servant, the word ‘afterwards’ should be in your vocabulary (Psalm 73:24; Luke 17:7–8). Every Christian needs patience (Hebrews 10:36) and patience needs time to do its work in us (James 1:3–4).