This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written
regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during
times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having
been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. In
stating, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the
psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves
been the source of life’s enlargement.
Haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and
found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when
he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the
strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had
only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing
in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart.
Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will
not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be
too deep for him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our
character. The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron
is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common
bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common
touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy
but sorrow—gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.
Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be
enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain
degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road
to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron
load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own
life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of
iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that
you will find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So
do not complain about the shadows of darkness—in reality, they
are better than your dreams could ever be. Do not say that the
darkness of the prison has shackled you, for your shackles are
wings—wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity.
And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe.
God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s
chain. George Matheson
If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have
never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his
feet brought about the golden chain around his neck. selected