It was Good for Me that I was Afflicted
All of God’s dealings are right, and they are for the good of His beloved children (Rom 8:28). From God our Father comes all things (Rom 11:36). As a person studies the Scriptures, the extensive range of God’s dealings is in view. No one escapes God’s chastisement (wicked) or His chastening (beloved children).
The promise of trouble was made, by Jesus, for the instruction of his disciples (Jn 16:33). Various trials visit the children of God, and these are for the testing of each one’s faith (Jas 1:2–3). Abel was resisted. Noah was mocked. Isaac was ripped off. Jacob was deprived of his son. Joseph was falsely accused. The more we know the saints of the Bible, the more joy we have in our own affliction (Jas 1:2). We join with those who have suffered before us, including Christ (Col 1:24).
It is an error to believe we should be exempted from God’s appointed lessons for our sanctification. These are His will (1 Thess 4:3). Rather, in our contemplation of our circumstances, we need discernment, asking in prayer, “Lord, what would you have me to learn through this tribulation?”
One thing we are sure to learn is the truth of God’s Word, as it reveals God and the fallen world to us. Men misinterpret the world without the knowledge and wisdom of God. This wisdom is found in the Bible, which tells us how things are in reality. Man’s conscience cannot be trusted, but the Word of God never fails. Thus, we must endear ourselves to God’s Word. The saint cries out, “Teach me, O God!”
The Christian learns that God’s economy with her is very different before and after affliction. She is misled into believing that material prosperity, in the world, is equated with blessing from God. Could Job’s wealth save him? Did Solomon’s wealth serve him well? Did the rich young ruler’s wealth help him to draw near to Christ? How did the rich fool fare on the day his soul was required of him? Why would anyone seek pecuniary riches when the refrain of Scripture is, “Woe to you, rich (Lk 6:24)!”
After affliction, there is a wiser man. He has been brought low, and his inclination toward the Law of God is enhanced. By God’s grace, this man’s heart has not hardened. In fact, his prayers are those of a helpless penitent. He knows he is an offense to the Most High, yet he also knows that God is always right to send every messenger of Satan (2 Cor 12:7). God is good to do all that will conform him to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).
The goodness of God is the agent of effluxion. Every wrong thought, affection, and way in me must be discharged. God’s goodness occupies more and more territory in the suffering servant, who abates his expressions of bitterness toward God, “Why have you made me this way?”
In seasons of suffering, the beleaguered beloved must pray and wait for God to deliver him (Ps 13:1). Not only does God do right, but He does good (Ps 125:4). Knowing Christ and His appointed afflictions help us to remember that He knows what it is to be despised and rejected of men (Is 53:3; 1 Pet 2:4). He, too, was a man of sorrows, yet, He did not open His mouth to revile His unjust persecutors (Is 53:7). Instead, He taught us by example, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Lk 23:34).”
This restraint is no easy task because the arrogant notoriously and nefariously forge lies against God’s anointed ones. They speak evil of God’s way and those who walk in it. Dogs, they nip at the heels of those who delight to walk by the Spirit, and in faith, on the narrow way. Doubters, they only wish to trip those who are trusting in God to have His own way with them.
Christian, what better teacher do you have than affliction? Can you join with David and echo him, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes (Ps 119:71).” What better day, than the day of trouble, for us to call upon the Lord? To seek His wisdom and comfort from His Word?
Silver and gold have escorted countless numbers to the gates of hell, but how unsearchable are the riches of Christ, which include our allotment of afflictions. Every promise of God is better than pure gold. Every instance of persecution, suffering, loss of possessions, depreciated reputation or status, is itself in service to God’s children, for them to gain more of Christ. Paul considered every gain to be loss, save for the gain of Christ (Phil 3:7–8).
Beloved, blessed are your afflictions. They are jewels in your crown. Each one is sent from God, custom-made to produce Christ in you. Delight in their lies and persecutions, for these are badges of God’s approval (Mt 5:11). Consider God from your sick bed or in debtor’s prison. Trials are your test of faith. Never forget this truth.
Endure each instance or season of affliction, remembering your steadfast and immovable status in Christ, who has already approved you for this present suffering (Eccl 9:7; 2 Tim 2:15), which is not to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom 8:18).
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 13, 2022