"Afflictions are a spade which God uses to dig into His people's hearts to find the gold of faith.
Christ further illustrates the preeminence of faith in the account of His restoring sight to the blind man by the pool of Siloam. This healing so enraged the malicious Pharisees that they excommunicated the man for no fault other than giving glory to his merciful Physician. And the presence and tenderness of Jesus more than compensated for this man's sudden new role as an outcast. But to our present purpose, let us note Christ's words to this person at their first meeting: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" John 9:35. The man had already expressed some enthusiasm in vindicating Christ and in speaking favorably of Him to the bitterest enemies He had on earth. But the one thing which Christ prized even more highly than the man's loyalty was his faith, a fact which we find in His inquiry: "Dost thou believe?" It is as if He had said, "All this zeal in speaking for Me, and your patience in suffering, are worth absolutely nothing if you do not have faith."
As we see in Jesus' encounter with the blind man, most of God's dealings with His people are questions concerning their faith, either the presence or the strength of it. And even when He afflicts, it is for "the trial of your faith" 1 Peter 1:7.
Afflictions are a spade which God uses to dig into His people's hearts to find the gold of faith. Not that He does not seek out the other graces also, but faith is the most precious of them all. Even when God delays and seems to withdraw His hand before coming with the mercy He promises, it is so that He can explore our faith.
Jesus carefully but thoroughly examined the Canaanite woman's faith while she struggled to believe: “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire. Matthew 15:28. And her daughter was healed instantly. In answering this woman's plea for Him to heal her daughter, Jesus gave her the evidence of her faith and more mercy by far than she had expected. ”
Quoted material from, ”The Christian in Complete Armour Daily Readings in Spiritual Warfare” by Gurnall and James S Bell. http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41823&pid=53617