We are reading the book A Place for Weakness by M.Horton, over at my friend Elizabeth’s blog, and because of all the travels, I have not been able to post my weekly chapter review here (I highly recommend you to read this book, it is very important!). Today, however, I want to share some things that I have found along the way about affliction in other sources that I am also reading.
Some believers have gone through much and long lasting suffering in their lives, some others have not. God has chosen different paths for everyone of his children, all for His glory and to sanctify us.
The most terrible thing that I have gone through was when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was about 12 yrs old, but it turned out to be a wonderful story, because of God’s mercy on her. Today she is alive, strong and full of energy to even play all day with my children, and cook all of our favorite meals.
I live in peace, my soul is at rest. But I have learned in the Scriptures and by seeing my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that affliction comes to the saints. And when it comes, we better be prepared and not surprised. I am not looking forward to it, neither do I seek it (no way!) but I have learned that we must prepare ourselves for that day; and we must teach our children from their early years about affliction.
Memorizing and studying* James has been such a tremendous blessing to me. James 1 tells us many things about affliction; the Lord reveals to us through this saint’s words many important ways on how we should prepare for afflictions.
For example see these:
1. We should count it (affliction) all joy. v. 2
2. We should KNOW why God afflicts his people. And here I just keep thinking how being diligent in the study of the Word and prayer are the only way for us to KNOW what God wants us to KNOW. v.3-4
3. Being double minded is a sign that men might not be really Christians; the double minded woman will sure be tossed away like an ocean wave when affliction comes. (v.6-7)
4. We must never think too much of ourselves, of our position, of our comfort, we WILL pass away. None of us will stand on this earth forever. We will die. We must live for the eternal not the temporary. (V. 9- 11)
5. We must be ready to persevere under trials. Trials, afflictions, the testing of our faith will come sooner or later and in different degrees, we must be ready to stand strong in the Word that day. (v. 12- 16)
There are so much more teachings on this chapter, but I think this summarizes clearly what James has to say ( I would really like to encourage you to read and study James this week).
So, we sit at the family table, and while enjoying a beautiful evening with a table full of food, and laughters around it; we talk about suffering, about the affliction of the saints. We don’t want our children to be surprised if one day God decides to lead them through the Valley of Death. We have seen so many families that the only thing they taught their children about God is “Jesus loves you and wants you to be happy”. Even the children’s Bibles that I see sitting in the “Christian bookstores” have titles like “God’s Word for Beautiful Princesses Like You” No wonder that when these girls grow and affliction comes the way they get mad at God and throw their fists against Him; their parents lied to them, teaching them a watered gospel; which knows no affliction.
This morning as I was reading my Bible, I read these words on Psalm 119: 92:
If your law had not been my delight,I would have perished in my affliction.
This is a master key that will open a way out to our afflicted hearts: delighting in the Word of God will help us not to perish even through the hardest circumstances.
Today, if you are walking in affliction,my dear friend, I pray for you (you can leave me a comment, or send me an email saying you want me to pray for you -and no, you don’t have to share your trials openly-) and if you are enjoying a time of peace, health, prosperity, don’t waste it. Go deep in the Word, pray, pray, pray, lest you fall in the snares of prosperity. Fill your soul with the Word, make it your delight, rise up early and bless your Maker!
* I have been studying the epistle of James using John MacArhur’s commentary, which I highly recommend.
>Thank you for this post. Like Persis said, I too had no right theology of God's means of affliction when it first came into my life. It was a long, albeit necessary, journey to a right understanding of His means of grace in and through affliction. And I am still learning. However, to meet Him with praise for all of His works is my prayer.
>Such a beautiful post, Becky, encouraging us to know that affliction is part of a Christian's life, that we should expect it and be prepared (as much is possible) for it. Yes, making the Word our delight and feasting on It regularly is essential!
>This is such an important post. Too often in the church today the focus seems to be on health, wealth and prosperity, living our best days now, getting all we can from God. That is not what God's word tells us. This world is passing away, these are not our best days, suffering and affliction will come, and we should not be surprised when it visits us. Keeping an eternal focus is key, knowing God's word, (and continuing in God's word daily)remembering he is sovereign and that he is working all things for our good and his glory.
>I had no theology of suffering before our time came. I wish I did, but God chose to teach us in the midst of it. These were hard lessons but precious ones I would never trade. How much better if we prepare our children for this. BTW, our pastor will be taking us thru James verse by verse. I'm looking forward to that.