Summary: Remember how God used affliction in the lives of the Godly prophets. James writes, "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persever
Pressing Onward and Upward (James 5:10-12)
Press onward for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus... (Phil. 3:8-10)
Know that the Lord allows adversity to make you stronger, better and not bitter or discouraged.
Illustration: I’ll say this for adversity: people seem to be able to stand it, and that’s more than I can say for prosperity.
Illustration: Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.
Malcolm Muggeridge, in Homemade, July, 1990.
1. Problems often provide us with greater opportunities
2. Problems can promote our spiritual maturity (Ps 105:16ff)
3. Problems prove our integrity (1 Pt 3:15)
4. Problems produce a sense of dependence
5. Problems prepare our hearts for ministry (more empathetic)
The following are some suggested responses to afflictions:
1. Let the Lord take away the pain of your afflictions. Paul writes, "He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows."2 Cor. 1 :4,5)
2. Believe that the Lord will use the affliction for some greater good. Paul writes, "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes. (Rom. 8:28)
Illustration: Faith does not panic, but realizes that what looks like devastating circumstances is actually God’s plan to bring glory to Himself by demonstrating His power. When Jesus walked on the water to the disciples in the fourth watch of the night, they thought he was a ghost (Matthew 14:26) They were so scared they couldn’t even call Ghostbusters. First appearances can bring such fear upon us even to the point of paralyzing us. Instead of doing something fishy like Finding Nemo, we need to find God in our circumstances. The lesson here is we need to exercise our faith as we spend time in the Word of God and trust God for His outcome in the situation no matter how painful it may be.
3. Thank God for the ways that He will use the affliction for building Godly character in you. James writes,"Consider it pure joy when you encounter trials of many kinds knowing that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let endurance have its perfect work that you may be complete lacking in nothing. (James 1:2,3)
4. Follow the example of great men like the apostle Paul who turned affliction to his advantage. Paul writes, "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as beaten down and yet not killed, as being poor yet making many rich; having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2 Cor. 6:5-10)
5. Draw nearer to God in prayer through times of affliction. David writes, "O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me. (Psa. 7: 1,2) O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death. (Psa. 9: 13) Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. (Psa. 16: 1)
6. Ask the Lord to fight your battles and it will relieve your stress. David writes, "Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me." (Psa. 35: 1)
7. Ask the Lord for a special portion of His mercy, love and protection. David writes, "Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see, They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be please, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me. May all who seek to take my life be put to shame and confusion. (Psa. 40;11-13) Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. (Psa. 120:2)
8. Use every affliction as an opportunity to let the Lord show His mighty power on your behalf. One day Matthew observed, "Christ’s disciples came to Him afraid that they would drown and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us, we are perishing." (Matt. 8:25)
9. Allow affliction to show you where you are lacking in faith and knowledge. Matthew writes about Peter, "But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, "Lord, save me," (Matt. 14:30)