– Robert Murray McCheyne
When we are afflicted by sickness, disease, financial catastrophes, or ruined relationships, where else can we turn to but to God? And maybe that’s the point. When we are devastated by afflictions, God may want us to learn to trust Him more…and trust Him more than what our checkbook balance says. God has the final word in everything, so perhaps God allows afflictions to bring us into a closer, more personal and trusting relationship with Him and that’s always a very good thing.
Sharing with Christ
Jesus Christ wants to share something with us, but few people would expect it to be sharing in His sufferings. They’d love to share in the good things with Christ, but what about sharing in His sufferings? We’re actually called to this as the Apostle Paul writes, “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2nd Cor 1:5), so “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1st Pet 4:13).
Praising Him in the Storm
Next to Jesus Christ, and perhaps even the Apostle Paul, Job may have suffered as much as anyone. He lost all 10 of his children and also lost all of his possessions, so did Job cry out, “Why me Lord?” No, in all this affliction, Job said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (John 13:15a). How’s that for praising God in the storm? Praising God in the bad times is very pleasing to God, even if it’s difficult for us to do…and I would say, especially when it’s difficult.
To Avoid Sin
Want to avoid sin? Of course we all should, but why not try to use afflictions to help you overcome sin with the power of God’s Spirit? What do I mean by that? The psalmist wrote, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71). God “does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men” (Lam 3:33) for no reason. The psalmist tells us that “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm 119:67), so afflictions drive us to His Word, and the Psalms are a good place to go for that. Afflictions can even help us to identify sins we need to work on in order to avoid sin the next time.
Students of the Bible know that affliction brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health, so it may be that God wants to have us trust Him more and to learn to share in the sufferings of Christ, so allow afflictions to do their work in you (and me), and praise Him in the storm to help you overcome or avoid sin.