“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes…and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Affliction is generally not seen as a desirable state in which to find yourself. For many, affliction is a sign that you are out of favor with God. When we find ourselves stressed and in pain, it is not out of the question to turn to God wondering why he has let this happen to us or to seek relief.
That God does use affliction to correct his children is evident in the scriptural admonishment:
“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him… Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12)
Neither was the psalmist was not overjoyed to be afflicted. But there is a hint in both of these passages that the affliction was not caused by the direct action of God. The source or cause of the affliction seems to be the result of personal decisions and actions.
Likewise, rarely is the devil to blame—Job being an exception. He is more often the accuser than the perpetrator. The cause of most affliction lies upon our own doorstep.
Who has not made a choice that resulted in unforeseen and unpleasant consequences? That it seemed like a good idea at the time is often more a lament than truth. That we are only human only serves to underline the truth. It is a nonsensical defense. Of course, we are only human—that is simply stating the problem.
However, God is not one to let a lesson, and thereby an opportunity for spiritual growth, go to waste. Do you see the positive takeaway from our texts?
Experiencing afflict brought knowledge of God’s principles and the practical experience of divine faithfulness through trials. Severe stress over an extended time is harmful. However, not all stress is negative. The stress of stepping outside our comfort zone often aids in our growth and can open the door to a broader understanding of our world.
Affliction for whatever cause, when placed in God’s hands will draw us closer to him and ultimately end in our good. It won’t be pleasant going through it, but it will be when we emerge victoriously.