Affliction Brings Us To Him

April 29, 2011

Friends,
Ps. 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word.”

It is unfortunate that almost all of us must be severely disciplined by the Lord in order to turn from unrighteousness back to our Maker, but alas, such it is amongst a very fallen humanity. However, because the Lord is so gracious and so kind, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Ps. 103:10) “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His mercy and love for those who fear Him.” (v. 11) Therefore, “As father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (v. 13,14) What a comfort!

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this.” (God, in Isa. 48:10) “For My own name’s sake I delay My wrath; for the sake of My praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.” (v. 9) Mercy again is granted us! Hope is renewed and we remember that the suffering, the testing, the affliction, is for a purpose and will not last forever.

Thus we say, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely, but HE has not given me over to death.” (Ps. 118:17,18)

So may we take up courage and strength, and realize that hardship means God is disciplining us, training us, and treating us as true sons. (Heb. 12:7,8,12) For this reason, then, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” (v. 5,6 quoting Prov. 3:11,12)

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. ‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Heb. 12:12,13 quoting Prov. 4:26) Yes, many are lame, but as the rest of Prov. 4:26 says, “… and take only ways that are firm.” This means, no veering off the straight and righteous way. (v. 27) It means, listening closely to God’s Word (v.20), reading it and keeping it within the heart. (v. 21) Why? “For they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.” (v. 22)

Because this is the case, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23) To guard our heart is to guard our affections, and our affections are to be turned from the world, and set on Christ and His concerns. For we are to say along with Paul in Phil. 3:8, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” All things means all. –Possessions, home, career, health, loved ones, etc. For since “our citizenship is in Heaven” (v. 20) we are to “set our minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (See Col. 3:2)

It is a high calling and it is highly encouraging! For indeed, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:10,11) Wow. The affliction is producing for us much good… much benefit? Yes. From it we are granted a share in Christ’s holiness! And we are granted a harvest of righteousness and peace –as well as all that goes along with that, such as comfort, healing, rest, joy, and Christ-likeness. What a blessing! What cause for rejoicing, thanksgiving, and songs of praise unto Your name, O Most High! (Ps. 92:1) For “I know, O LORD, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me.” (Ps. 119:75) Yes, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”  (v. 71)

It is certainly true then: “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal.” (Job 5:17,18)

So, praise be to our wonderful Savior, Comforter, and Maker who has brought us, through the suffering, into His presence while loving us dearly as children. And may we be children who continuously respond by lovingly obeying the Father’s Word.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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