Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.” -Matthew Henry
You’re thinking you must have done something terrible. Or maybe that God’s been playing favorites, and you’re not one of them.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re going through adversity, you seem to be surrounded by people whose lives seem so easy? So effortless?
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to feel offended – actually offended – when you’re plowing through the tough stuff? As if God or life or the world owed you something and hasn’t paid up?
Let’s face it – nobody gets up in the morning yearning for a hard day. Nobody prays for more pain. And yet go to any source of earthly or heavenly wisdom, and you’ll see somebody talking about the pure value of adversity. Let’s just start at the top:
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes (Psalm 119:71).
Speak for yourself, holy man! This is twenty-first century America, where God owes us an easy life. We’re on his winning team and all that.
Some of the most profound wisdom you can ever attain will come at the other end of affliction, which is a general word for whatever crap you’re going through. If it hurts, it’s affliction. I know, yours is unique and your situation is different. I know – believe me, I know – that your pain is real and you’d do just about anything for some relief.
I also know that if you’re right in the middle of the affliction right now, you may probably want to save this for future reference. Sometimes it’s hard to see the abundant treasure when all you can do is feel the fire of the furnace. But I want to tell you that there truly is beauty, even in your moments of deep pain. Learning from the experience of the psalmist, you can find ways that what looks bad today can lead to extraordinary goodness tomorrow.
What’s so good about affliction? [click to continue…]