Reasons God Keeps Us Afflicted

January 8, 2014

I doubt that anyone can deny that nearly every family on the face of this earth has been afflicted with trouble. If it’s not a mountainous one, then there are likely several small ones that remain lodged and immovable like irritating thorns. The overall reason is simple: We live in a fallen, condemned world –a world controlled, and a people blinded, by the evil usurper and false god, Satan. (John 3:18 // 2 Cor. 4:4 // 1 John 5:19)

But Jesus! For He came and destroyed the devil’s rulership by buying mankind back to Himself, the ransom price being Christ’s death. (John 12:31-33 // 1 Tim. 2:5,6) However, because most of mankind does not believe this and because they refuse to repent by coming out of the darkness into the freedom Christ’s blood purchased for us (John 3:16-21,36 // Col. 1:13,14), the devil and his servants continue to deceive and devour. (John 10:10 // 2 Cor. 11:13-15 // 1 Tim. 4:1-3 // 1 Peter 5:8) For this reason, those who do not stand steady in faith (meaning firm, confident, and faithful in the Truth) cannot resist him. (1 Peter 5:9 // 2 Peter 3:17) For only by being in Christ (that is, by being obedient to Christ’s Leadership –Rom. 8:9) can a person be safe. (1 John 5:18)

But if a person is safe from the evil one by abiding faithfully in Christ, and we can thus ask anything of Him (John 15:1-7), then why are Christians still experiencing troubles? The reasons vary, but God’s Word gives us answers.

One reason is that we may be contaminated by something which God is trying to purge out of us. (Pr. 20:30 // Titus 2:14) This pollutant infecting us may be another person, a group of people, a habit that dishonors Christ’s name or that simply takes time away from doing His will, or it may be some other sin we have which we are not fully cognizant of. Suffering, though, has a way of causing us to seek God, and when we do that, we are enabled to hear His voice –His rebuke and His instructions. If He reveals to us that the affliction is His punishment to us (or to those we have aligned ourselves with), then that affliction is His way of motivating us to cease whatever is displeasing to Him or to leave the fellowship of those who are. This God does to us in love “so that we will not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32)

Another reason God’s people suffer is that He uses it to make us stronger and to train, for even greater purposes, those who do please Him. (Heb. 12:1-13) Discipline is normal and good for the athlete, for the surgeon in training, and also for the faithful follower of Christ. Unquestionably, no one can learn hard things without great strain. Certainly then, no one can learn about God –His ways and character– and get to know Him who is the infinitely amazing and complex Eternal One, by sitting back with ease. No, God must be sought. And when finite, contaminated man seeks the Holy, Infinite, Most High God, it does take much time, great effort, and yes, usually many tears.

A further and related reason for God bringing us trouble, is that He is testing the quality and sincerity of our hearts. (1 Thes. 2:4 // 1 Peter 1:6,7) The test is to see if we have passed into a more stable and mature faith than we displayed amid previous troubles. (Ja. 1:2-4,12) Of course it’s not God, before whom all hearts and minds lay exposed (Jer. 17:10 // Heb. 4:13), who actually needs to see if we have grown, but it is we who need to be faced with the facts. We are the ones who must recognize whether or not we have developed spiritual muscle and fortitude so that we can set to work on areas that we realize we are lacking in. If we do not set about to rectify our spiritual deficiencies, we can be quite assured that God will send us continued tests of adversities until we pass with a score of excellence. Such a required score is not reserved merely for surgeons and Olympic athletes, but also for those being trained by God to conform to Christ-likeness. (Mt. 5:48 // Rom. 8:29 // 1 John 2:6)

If we are conducting ourselves, in God’s opinion, with spiritual excellence, He still may wedge us into hardships. Why? Because not only do they make us strong (Rom. 5:3,4), but they also make us understand how weak we are on our own! Therefore, this weakness and humility are the very things that create our spiritual strength, for they keep us clinging ever-tightly to our Savior, so that therein is our Christ-likeness. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

So, being that tribulation is pretty much unavoidable in life, how should we respond to it? With patience. And with trust in the One who knows what He is doing in allowing it or in even causing it directly. And if we continue to believe His promises, praise Him, cry out to Him, and take refuge in Him, the trouble will pass; or else the Lord will give us strength to joyfully endure, as well as give us glimpses of the reward that is yet to come. For it is by sharing in Christ’s sufferings, that we actually attain, not only more blessings of holiness, peace, wisdom, and contentment on earth, but a much greater honor throughout eternity. (Mt. 5:1-12 // 2 Cor. 4:17 // Heb. 12:9-13 & 11:35 // 1 Peter 2:21-24 & 4:12-14)

with love,

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