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"Prove all things..." 1Thess 5:21

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Blessing from Affliction

by Daniel J.M. Galpin

Affliction is indeed painful, yet from such we can still have joy, it's our choice, and we are able to count our many blessings. Not the blessings we have in spite of our current affliction, although that would be true too, rather the blessings that come from our suffering. Are you thinking I've finally dropped over the edge? Think again, is this not what Scripture tells us to do?

Granted, I'm not looking for more affliction to come my way so I can count more blessings, but I am looking back at what I've suffered and what I'm suffering now and asking God what good has come from it? For me the trial has been over a span of about 13 years with a break now and then and the end possibility in sight, yet each day can change that and the end may not be near at all; instead it may well be the beginning of a deeper affliction.

Suffering can come in many forms, mine came by way of betrayal from two family members on two separate occasions, both involving financial difficulties. The first causing both business failure and semi-homelessness, which was temporarily improved by my attempts to solve the problem without resting in the Lord to fix it, yet the end result may become worst then the state I was left in by the betrayer. The second betrayal, also by a family member, promised a financial rescue of the first, yet in the end, after many hours of dedication to the project, it was an empty promise. In some ways the second was worst than the first: the first betrayal, I believe was done in ignorance of the lasting consequences while the second betrayal was done with absolute knowledge of the consequences. So what possible good can come of all this? I made a list:

The list above is a partial listing of the blessing that God has given me throught my suffering. There is however, one item not on the list that would be good to talk about in more detail. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Psalms 119:67

Affliction and suffering, if welcomed, rather than resisted will produce a bond between God and man. We will grow in intimacy with God rather than distance between Him as we embrace that which God brings into our lives. Job is a good example, Joseph and David too. Adversity will either bring us close to God and the ones we love or it will destroy those relationships. The result is up to us, not because we have some awesome power within us, rather because as servants to the Lord, He lives in us and He does the overcoming. We however must make the choice to surrender ourselves to God and He's will or the power to overcome will not come.

Sin brings us delight for a season; affliction brings us sorrow and either resentment for what God did or allowed to happen or joy for accepting it. Once we embrace God's will as He presents it, including the suffering, we see the futileness of sin and desire to abandoned it more than we desire the pleasure of it. Thus we cling to God and hate sin. The joy spoken of in James: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4 (KJV), is ours to enjoy. This is how such an apparent counter-diction can be true! It's not a counter-diction after all: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55:6-9

God knows how we will handle temptations, He is merely showing us who we really are! God uses both affliction and temptation to reveal to us our heart. We say we believe and we will stand for the Lord, but will we? God shows us what's deep within and sometimes we don't like the truth of who we are.

Thankfully as we endure the trials we see our faith grow through patience and we are made complete before God as mentioned in James and we grow to trust God for He doesn't do things as we imagine because His ways are above us as mentioned in Isaiah. Additionally we have God's promise regarding temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13 (KJV). This provides us the confidence that whatever is thrown into our lives, God will bring us through and it reminds us that when we do succumb to sin, it's because we chose to do so, not because we were not able to avoid it. Thus placing upon us the responsibly to accept our behavior as our own.

This too beings us joy! Owning up to personal responsibly and accountability for our actions is being honest with ourselves. If we honest with ourselves, we can deal with what we need to change in our lives by asking for God's grace to deal with it. Our joy is full as we focus on what God is doing and the blessings we are receiving as He does His work in us.

Hymn writers have lived this truth and/or been inspired by this truth and shared it with us through songs. Listed are only a few:

God can use anyone anywhere to do anything and He doesn't need us to do it, however, He has chosen to use us despite us. God is totally and completely amazing!

What challenge is God calling you to? What affliction are you or have you suffered that God will use to bring Himself glory, IF you choose to let Him? What good has God brought into your life through your suffering? What are you doing to embrace God and live for Him? “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:22-25.

Go do the Word and let those around you see God! Christ, while on earth said, if you see me, you see God, likewise, we, are the only God the world will ever see! We are not God, but we are His representatives here on earth. Just as our government has representatives in DC to do the will of the people, we are God's representatives to do His will and just as those in DC choose to do either their own will or the will of the people, we must choose to do either our own will or the will of God. Live for the living God and show the world who God is!