Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
Sadness is often a happy means of seriousness, and that affliction which is impairing to the health, estate, and family, may be improving to the mind, and make such impressions upon that as may alter its temper very much for the better, may make it humble and meek, loose from the world, penitent for sin, and careful of duty.
Vexatio dat intellectum—Vexation sharpens the intellect. Periissem nisi periissem—I should have perished if I had not been made wretched. It will follow, on the contrary, that by the mirth and frolicsomeness of the countenance the heart is made worse, more vain, carnal, sensual, and secure, more in love with the world and more estranged from God and spiritual things. . .
From Commentary on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry.
In other words, that me-centered part of me (which is basically all of me) wants an easy, simple, unconcerned, unconnected, self-centered, self-justifying existence. I avoid need and run to comfort. God doesn’t even enter the picture.
And I would perish.
But when suffering comes, ‘improving the mind,’ I see how small I am and how much I need a God who is big and free and powerful and good.
That leads to life. And a happy heart.