A good warm up here might involve reading Five Ways Affliction Helps by John Piper from a couple of weeks ago.
Typically when we encounter personal affliction of any kind, our first response is to determine what we can either do to escape the affliction or simply make it go away.
But in the kingdom of God, is that always the right course of action?
Quite frankly, my experience has revealed that a hasty attempt as escape or resolution sometimes has far greater costs and robs us of the joy, spiritual insights and comforting presence of God found in the midst.
If I may, I’d like to share some of what Scripture reveals as God’s purpose in affliction.
Let’s start with Job … in the midst of adversity God delivers man by our afflictions!
He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity. Job 36:15 (ESV)
In the moment of our affliction, we determine there is something far greater … God’s promise of life!
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50 (ESV)
Affliction may tame a wayward soul and draw them to learn and keep God’s word!
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. Psalm 119:67 (ESV)
God comforts us in our afflictions … that we might comfort others in their affliction as He has comforted us!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
Our light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory as we look heavenward!
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
In the midst of our affliction … in the midst of ALL circumstances, we are to rejoice, pray without ceasing and give thanks for this is the will of God IN Christ Jesus for us!
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Afflictions test, perfect and complete our faith!
We are to find joy in the midst of affliction!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-3 (ESV)
Complete your works IN me via my afflictions Lord … complete your work!