I am casually reading through Philip Yancey's book Where Is God When It Hurts?, an exploration of pain and its purpose. Here is a quite a truism which I ran across this morning:
"If I spend my life searching for happiness through drugs, comfort, and luxury, it will elude me. 'Happiness recedes from those who pursue her.' Happiness will come upon me unexpectedly as a by-product, a surprising bonus for something I have invested myself in. And, most likely, that investment will include pain. It is hard to imagine pleasure without it." (Chapter 4)
Although he is specifically speaking of physical pain, the quote is quite applicable for any type of pain. We all go through difficult times, some of us live in pain of a physical or emotional nature constantly, but it is a comfort to know that the hard times sharpen our senses to the real joys and rewards of life. God's consolation for the valley is the sharp contrast of the mountain top.