Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Blessedness of Affliction & Suffering

“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth” — let Israel now say — “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me Psalm 129:1-2 ESV.

As I read Psalm 129 this morning, I was perplexed and disappointed. Within myself I thought, I was looking for a word from God that would bless and encourage me. A Psalm about affliction was not meeting my expectations.

As I was trying to come up with a title for this Psalm I decided to turn to the free internet edition of the Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon. I was blown away by what I discovered.

“As it is only in affliction God is sought, so by many it is only in affliction God is known. When Manasseh was brought to affliction, then he knew that the Lord he was God: 2 Chronicles 33:12-13.”

This caused me to realize afresh how painful and unwanted times of affliction and suffering have been principle instruments God has used to force me to go deeper and deeper in my pursuit of Him.

Spurgeon's exposé of Psalm 129:1-2 continues:
“But, further, it is only by affliction we ourselves are known. It is only when they (people) are crushed as the worm they are made to feel that the dust is their source; only when earthly props are withdrawn will they take hold of that arm of omnipotence which Jesus offers, and which He has offered so long in vain.”

Tears came to my eyes as I read and recognized that it has only been as God has allowed my earthly props and fortunes to be stripped away that I have been enticed to go deeper and deeper into the loving arms of my Jesus.

“God's children, who had forgotten him, arise and go to their Father when thus smitten by the scourge of sorrow; and no sooner is the penitent ‘Father, I have sinned’ spoken, than they are clasped in his arms, and safe and happy in his love. 

It is, further, by affliction that the world is known to God's children. God's great rival is the world. The lust of the flesh, pleasure; the lust of the eye, desire; the pride of life, the longing to be deemed superior to those about us, —comprise everything man naturally covets. Give us ease, honor, distinction, and all life's good will seem obtained. But what wilt thou do, when he shall judge thee? This is a question fitted to alarm the happiest of the children of prosperity.

What so frequently and effectually shows the necessity of piety as the sharp teachings of affliction? They show what moralists and preachers never could, that riches profit not in the day of death, that pleasures most fully enjoyed bring no soothing to the terrors which nearness to eternity presents, and that friends, however affectionate, cannot plead for and save us at the bar of God. ‘Miserable comforters are they all,’ and it is for the very purpose of inspiring this conviction, along with a belief that it is Jesus alone who can comfort in the hour of need, that affliction is sent to God's children. — Robert Nisbet.

I was overwhelmed with gratefulness and a tangible sense of the nearness of God ...  From the bottom of my heart I give You thanks, my Three-in-One, for drawing me ever closer and deeper in love with You through the disappointments and loses You have allowed me to experience. I affirm the Truth that it has been because of Your great faithfulness that You have afflicted me (Psalm 119:75). 

Would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this devo. It’s very meaningful for me for today. Like you, I want words of encouragement from the Word, I don’t want to hear a psalm of affliction. I totally related with that. It was meaningful in two ways:
    · At 6 am today, my “nominal Christian” friend sent me a text that she was crying on the beach because of her rebellious teenage daughter. We talks about her pain and prayed on the phone. As I read this I thought – this “affliction” is what she needs to draw her closer to the Lord. Then I realized my pattern – I want to fix everyone else when MY heart is the one that needs fixing. We both need to draw closer to Jesus from right where we are – not just her – I NEED IT!!!

    · I am going on a short term mission trip in Feb 2015 to a slum – its been a long time since I’ve been in a 3rd world country. This devo reminds me I need to immerse myself in the affliction of others to appreciate God’s power. Thoughts creep in “Why are you going to Kenya?”. You’re old. Just send money. What about Ebola. Stay home”. I need to go. This is why.

    Thanks, Rusty. I treasure your devos and Forums. They are honest and powerful. I look forward to them. Bad on me for not commenting sooner as I have been enjoying them since May.
    Thank you.