I came across this wonderful passage on the nature of suffering in Sedgwick’s Married or Single? (1857) while reading for my dissertation. It’s from a Unitarian minister, writing in 1853.
Have you, reader, ever experienced a great sorrow? and if so, have you not seen afterward how it discloses heights and depths in your spiritual nature which you had never known, and resources upon which you had never drawn; how it produces susceptibilities which you had never before felt; how it induces a tenderness of mind that makes it ductile almost as the clay, and ready to receive the stamp of the divine image; how little animosities and hatreds are banished and forgotten, while the heart has new yearnings toward all that live, and especially toward all that suffer; how the soul sickens at mere shows and appearances, and demands realities, while it hungers after the good and the true; how this world recedes less, while the world of immortality comes on as if now first revealed, and incloses you in its light, just as when the glare of the day is withdrawn and the darkness moves over us, we gaze on a new sky, and bathe in the starry splendors of the milky way.
-Edmund H. Sear, Regeneration