Suffering and affliction is inevitable in this life. It proves the truth of the Bible that we live in a fallen world. Sooner or later suffering will land on our doorsteps; it will visit our life. As Christians, we are not exempt from the valley of affliction and tears. They are common to our life as we wait for the redemption of our body at the Lord’s return. Though our spirit is reborn and brought into fellowship with Jesus Christ, we travel through the same vale of trouble as every man. In fact, we may experience more than the average man because we are a threat to the kingdom of darkness and are targets for the enemy’s attacks.
With the certainty of affliction firmly fixed through the teachings of the Scripture, let us briefly consider what our response should be. Our reaction to a valley of affliction will determine many things in regards to the darkness of the affliction. I do not remember where I heard this, but it has been said, “When you find yourself in a ditch, the first thing to do is throw down your shovel.” Our reaction to affliction can certainly be a continual digging; one which makes the situation worse. Or it can be better than that. It can yield to God’s work and bring about His desired transformation.
Life is part of God’s classroom to teach His children how to trust His sovereign and gentle hand. Without calling evil, good, we do know that regardless of the valley the Lord will work it together for good to those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28) Trials are actually the Love of God in action, designed to mature and call us out of our playpen level of faith. He is calling us to grow up.
Affliction challenges, to the deepest level, our faith in the goodness and mercy of God. The pain and horror we experience brings to the surface of our consciousness all the “If God really loved me…” type of questions. Suffering will press us below the silly cliches and bumper sticker responses, and into the heart and mind of our Good Shepherd.
Affliction also tests whether or not we actually believe in the promises of the Bible. Many times we hold ourselves to be more spiritual than we actually are. Suffering turns the heat up to reveal our genuine level of conviction and stance on the Word of God; it uncovers and reveals our previously unknown dross!
Sometimes the Lord will bring a need into our life, just so we can discover His care and love for our soul. He deepens our dependency upon His wisdom, His righteousness and His faithfulness. Affliction is the measuring stick God uses to gauge our maturity; not so He can know it, but so we can see it clearly. It offers us an honest look within the recesses of our own heart by providing heaven’s microscopic vision. We see ourselves clearly, without pretense or platitudes, as our innermost disappointments and frustrations are revealed. Affliction offers us the ability to see ourselves the way the Lord does–open and naked.
So what should be our response? The answer is hard, but simple. We should be honest with the Lord concerning the musings of our heart. Lay out the ugliness of our murmurings, the embarrassment of our unbelief and the loneliness of our pain. God is big enough to hear our complaint…He will not run away. In fact, He will draw near. The experiences of Job and David shows us the benefit of honesty before God. This path is the only way to make sure we do not waste our sorrows. There are deep lessons and treasures to be brought up by those who dive into the heart issues of affliction. But these treasures will only be given to those who with honesty, brokenness and humility are willing to cry out unto the Lord.
Don’t run from the Lord when affliction hits. Don’t adopt the false health, wealth and prosperity doctrine of modern heretics. Don’t cause more damage by wallowing in the mud of bitterness and impatience. In our affliction, the Lord’s hand is reaching out to us as never before…He is reaching for our heart.
Don’t waste your sorrows!!!