Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Great Blessing of Affliction

At first glance the title of this post would seem to be a bit of an oxymoron. An antonym for affliction is blessing, so how could affliction possibly be characterized as that which is its opposite? To many the thought of being afflicted; as in living in a state of pain, distress, misery, or grief is a horrible thing to consider and is a cup that few, if any, would voluntarily drink from. However, there are a thousand benefits that come to God's children through their pains and griefs.

The Bible verses that this blog post is centered around is Psalm 119 verses 67, 71, and 75. These three verses have been among the most precious to me over the past year as I have been trying to deal with a serious health issue I've been afflicted with.

Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalm 119:75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

We read here that at some point the psalmist went astray and that following this wandering away from God he was afflicted. By affliction God separated the sin which he hated from the soul which he loved and it can only be the fool that frowns upon afflictions that are for his/her own profit. In Job 5:17 it says happy is the man whom God corrects and if you have ever come under affliction I hope this can be the description said of you. There is a quote by the puritan Arthur Dent originally from The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven that explains this blessing most beautifully:

"God's children are no losers by their afflictions, but gainers. It is better for them to have them than to be without them; they are very good for them...For to them the cross is mercy and loss is gain. Afflictions are their schooling, and adversity their best university."

I also like the commentary provided by Albert Barnes who says: 

Among those things for which good men have most occasion for thankfulness are afflictions; and when we lie down on the bed of death, and look over life and the divine dealings with us through life, as the glories of heaven are about to open upon us, we shall feel that among the chiefest mercies of God are those dealings of his holy hand, trying at the time, which kept us from going astray, or which recalled us when we had wandered from him - and that in our life, now closing, there has not been one trial too much."

This past year I have had the opportunity to be reminded daily of the affliction the Lord has dealt me. Before I was afflicted I also went astray, but God who knows every heart and the best way to reach any heart has dealt with me wisely and has corrected me. Perhaps you have been afflicted at some point recently and can relate to the great blessing of affliction. 

For a good read on sanctified affliction I recommend the sermon by John Angell James found here on Grace Gems!

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