3 Grace-Giving Afflictions

“Affliction brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health.”

– Robert Murray McCheyne

Preserving the Saints

Psalm 37 has a lot to do with God not forsaking His saints. Even “though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand” (Psalm 37:24), and knowing that “the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever” (Psalm 37:28). God is in the business of preserving His saints, even if falling headfirst, because God has their hands; it’s not the other way around. Our God “will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).

His Grace Is Sufficient

The Greeks hated humility and meekness, and they didn’t even have a word for humility. They thought it was not strength but weakness, even though meekness is strength–it’s strength under control. The late giant of a man, Andre the Giant, was an enormously imposing man, yet on the movie set he was meek, humble, and reserved. Would anyone call him weak!? Paul was humbled by his thorn in the flesh so that he wouldn’t think too highly of himself, as he wrote, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:7), and “three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me” (2 Corinthians 12:8).But God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In Paul’s afflictions, he said, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

His Eternal Purposes

Talking and thinking about God’s eternal promises may help us see things through the lens of eternity even if we wear the temporary glasses of afflictions. There will come a time when “the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land” “(Psalm 37:9) and “the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Psalm 37:11). Many of those who are first today will be last in the kingdom or not there at all, for only the meek inherit the land. Even today the meek can say, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25), and, “He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing” (Psalm 37:26). His promises are not just for eternity but into eternity.


God never, ever wastes suffering. Everything has a purpose in this life. Even the painful afflictions we go through (Romans 8:28) and the evil that afflicts us work out for good (Genesis 50:20). If you take all your afflictions from your entire life and place them on the scales of time, would you even see them in light of eternity? When we look back on our lives someday, millions and billions of years later, will we even think about our earthly afflictions when contrasted with time without end (Romans 8:18)?