The Blessing of Affliction

Psalm 129:1-2, “'Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth,' may Israel now say.” One might wonder why the Lord would allow affliction to come into the lives of His people. It is because that affliction is one of our greatest sources of help. There are times when God finds it necessary to bring this affliction about as in Jonah. Sometimes it comes in the form of persecution from the world as in Mark 4:17. Whatever the source may be, however, affliction can be a real source of benefit to us. Like a storm, it may not be pleasant at the moment but afterwards it yields the desired fruit.

The Lord promised in Deuteronomy 28:12 that He would bless His people with controlled storms. He promised to send them rain in due season. They were sent at a time when they did the most good. It has been said that continual sunshine makes a desert, and continual rainfall makes a jungle, but the combination of the two makes a paradise. If we had our way about it, we would have nothing but sunshine. If the devil had his way about it, we would have nothing but storms. But when God has His way about it, we received the combination that makes for fruitfulness.

We read of the cords of affliction, Job 36:8. Which are a means by which the Lord restrains us. “Before I was afflicted I went astray,” Psalm 119:67. Affliction is often an experience that binds us more closely to the Lord and to the altar. “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray,” James 5:13 “We cry unto Thee in our affliction,” II Chronicles 20:9.

We read of the water of affliction, Isaiah 30:20. We think of water in connection with the outward cleansing. Paul spoke of the cleansing that takes place with the washing of water by the Word, Ephesians 5:26. The Lord finds it necessary to cleanse His people from time to time just as natural parents do. We could not move among the people around us very well without picking up some of their contamination. That is why the Lord often leads us through experiences that have a cleansing effect upon us. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” Isaiah 25:11.

The prophet also speaks of the furnace of affliction, Isaiah 48:10. This is what removes the impurities from within. It is like the work of a refiner’s fire, Malachi 3:3, which is the only way of removing the dross. This verse speaks of the Lord sitting as a refiner, watching them at all adding only the fire that would be necessary in removing the dross. It is comforting to know what the Lord not only watches the fire, but He also goes through the experiences with us. “In all their affliction, He was afflicted,” Isaiah 63:9

In Hebrews 10:32, we read of the great fight of afflictions. This also is good for us and it keeps us on our guard. In verses 33 and 34, it indicates that this type of affliction has drawn these saints nearer to the workers and the workers nearer to them. It made for a closer fellowship at the moment, and added to their eternal reward in the end.

Paul sums this up in II Corinthians 4:17 as being a light affliction. The affliction is only light and lasts for a moment, but the reward has weight and is eternal. It is not so hard to face experiences when we realise that in the light of eternity they are only for a moment. They are not worthy to be compared with the glory that as a result will be revealed in us, Romans 8:18.