Sunday, October 04, 2009

Devotional:Thou in Faithfulness has Afflicted Me

Thou in Faithfulness has Afflicted Me
by Marsha Iddings
Psalm 119:75 ¶ I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

When I read this verse, I had to do a double take. The phrase that surprised me was this: "...thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."

What? God is responsible for causing me affliction and hard times? How can this be? If you look at Scripture, you find that God often uses affliction to teach His people, grow them up spiritually and accomplish His good purposes. Here are just a few examples:

Joseph was afflicted by his brothers, sold into slavery in Egypt, falsely accused and thrown into prison all in preparation to be promoted to the next highest position in the government to save God's people from extinction. Joseph said later, when Ephraim was born, "For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." (Genesis 41:52) God allowed and used Joseph's trials for good.

Job was the center of a debate between God and Satan. Satan was sure that if God allowed him to afflict Job that Job would deny the faith and forsake God. God gave Satan permission to test his theory out on Job. Notice that Satan was not allowed to touch Job without God's permission. God was ultimately responsible for the trials that Job was put through. Here is Job's response, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." (Job 13:15)

The Apostle Paul was afflicted with what was believed to be a problem with his eyes. He pleaded with God three times to remove this affliction from him, but God said, "No. My grace is sufficient for you." And Paul goes on to say this, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Corinthians 12:9) We see through Paul's life that his ministry went on with great power in spite of his affliction and perhaps because of it. God was ultimately responsible for Paul's affliction. He could have removed it but didn't.

Jesus endured great affliction as he went about his earthly ministry and then the greatest affliction of all as he suffered and died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins that we might be saved from eternal damnation in Hell. God the Father was responsible for Christ's suffering. Jesus even prayed in the garden and asked if the cup could be removed from Him if it was God the Father's will. "And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." (Mark 14:36)

Too often Satan gets the rap for causing affliction. When "good" things happen God gets the credit but when "bad" things happen Satan gets the credit. We often define good things as things that benefit us and bad things are things that threaten our comfort in life. This is our sinful human perspective. But as we saw above, God often uses "bad" things to accomplish His ultimate good. When we are in the middle of the affliction we don't always see how good can come of it. But this is where patience comes in. Romans 5:3 says, "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" We must let our affliction work into us patience so that we might see the good that God is working through our trials.

Notice that it says, "...thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me". Jesus was called a friend of publicans and sinners (Matthew 11:19). Proverbs 27:6 tells us, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." 1 Peter 4:19 says, "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."

Joni Eareckson-Tada is a modern day Christian whose life is a testimony to God's faithfulness in affliction. Paralyzed from the neck down due to a diving accident when she was 17 years old, Joni's joy and trust in the Lord is evidence of God's faithfulness to her. God has taken her from obscurity to world-wide ministry as she encourages God's people through her radio ministry, artwork, writing and her missionary efforts of providing wheel chairs and God's Word to those in needy third-world countries. God has used her afflictions as a stage to reveal His faithfulness to a needy hurting world.

It's a challenge to do, but we need to keep in mind when we are afflicted that this is asign of God's faithfulness to us. He is working out something good according to His plan and purpose. We just need to be patient and trust Him.

1 comment:

Domestically Inclined said...

Amen! It is difficult for the American mind to grasp this, but in the Holy Spirit there is understanding. We are to find fellowship in the sufferings of Christ in the afflictions God allows, yes that HE allows. I can trust in my Jesus knowing that HE is in ultimate control! The enemys greatest threat is death, the believers greatest victory is death! For precious in the sight of our God is the death of His saints. There really is nothing to fear, except Almighty God!
Thanks so much for the insights and encouragement! God Bless you!