"Come, then, affliction, if my Father wills, and be my frowning friend. A friend that frowns is better than a smiling enemy."
I immediately think about the thorn in the flesh the Apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, "or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The passage from Scripture does not indicate what exactly was Paul's thorn in his flesh, his affliction. I think that is because it is a general principle that can be applied to whatever affliction one may struggle with personally. Do we all endure the same kinds of trials, temptations, burdens? Whatever the particular affliction a person faces, or whatever particular situation I believe, "wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy"(Proverbs 27:6). Affliction is personified as our friend--not our enemy.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes."