Saturday, August 2, 2008

Faithful Affliction

I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. (Ps. 119:75)

This has to be one of the most faith-filled verses in the Bible.

Many are the preachers who have developed an allergy to verses like this one. How likely are they to make millions of bucks preaching on such verses? No, they would far rather preach the worship of Self, teaching that we are the center of the universe, and God Himself revolves around us! "Have faith," they say, "and God will make sure you never so much as stub your toe." God becomes, in this way of thinking, a pandering servant who exists to spoil you rotten, a flatterer who buffs up your self-image with every word, a tool for you to use to get what really matters far more than God Himself (money, comfort, fame, sex, you name it). Funny, that sort of god is indistinguishable from Satan, isn't he?

"You've done right, LORD. You have afflicted me in faithfulness."

"You've done right, LORD. In faithfulness You are allowing my back to hurt like there's a hot poker stabbing me."

"You've done right, LORD. In faithfulness You have afflicted my son so that he screams all day and all night."

"You've done right, LORD. In faithfulness You have moved me far from everyone I know at the same time that You've torn my life to shreds."

"You've done right, LORD. In faithfulness You have given me a heart attack."

"You've done right, LORD. In faithfulness You have taken my uncle's life in a motorcycle accident."

The LORD did all those things to me and my loved ones, and more. And He did them all in faithfulness. I couldn't always see it at the time. But from where I stand now, I can tell you with absolute confidence that the LORD makes no mistakes. Is that because I've become so wise? No, I'm afraid not. I will never understand (on this earth) all the reasons for everything that you and I suffer on this earth. But God...

But God...

God Himself is sweet to me, beyond words. He has shown enough of His character, enough of His love, enough of His peace, enough of His joy, for me to trust Him with all that I don't understand. And that's the God I worship, the God I want to worship. I have no interest in a milquetoast god who is no greater than I, who has no higher purpose than turning me into a spoiled brat. Spare me any god who waters down truth for fear of offending. Away with any gods who tolerate sin. My God "scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:6), and I'm sinful enough to have felt that scourge plenty of times. I know I'll feel it many times more, too. No, I don't enjoy it. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb 12:11)

I love and trust Him, and I love and trust His plans for me.

He deserves no less.

"Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight." (Hos. 6:1-2)

That's a gorgeous Old Testament prophecy, talking about how Christ's resurrection would be our resurrection too, if we belong to Him. The thing about God's "tearing" is that He only tears us for our good. And His healing leaves us better than new.

I'm learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire's embrace

For though my past with sin was etched,

His mercies did erase.

Each time His purging cleanses deeper

I'm not sure that I'll survive.
Yet the strength in growing weaker

Keeps my hungry soul alive.

The Refiner's fire

Has now become my sole desire.

Purged, and cleansed, and purified

That the Lord be glorified.

He is consuming my soul

Refining me, making me whole.

No matter what I may lose,

I choose the Refiner's fire.

(That song is sung by Steve Green. I apologize that I don't have more information to give you on that right now).

No, Christianity isn't a religion for masochists. As I said, there's no pleasure in the fire. But if there were no fire, this God would be less than He is...less holy, less pure, less perfect. And there is so much pleasure to be found in His holiness and purity and perfection, that I wouldn't have Him any other way.

He Himself is worth it all.

(Photo from Stock.xchng by ziptrivia)


Hannah said...

That is very encouraging! Praise to the LORD!

micey said...

excellent post!

Abigail Kraft said...

Beautiful post! Only our God can give us trials and pain and in the end, make us better for it.

Thanks for the encouraging words!
In His arms,

MiPa said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

That's the God I want to worship, AMEN! He is definitely someone we can trust in. Thanks for sharing today I enjoyed it.

Laurie Ann said...

Beautiful post about faith during affliction and the rejoicing that is found in God alone. I have a phrase I say, "I have discovered the champion in me - His Name is Christ!"

Ava Semerau said...

"God doesn't make mistakes." What a great reminder and a great story to back it up. Thanks!


Esthermay said...

OH! Friend: AMEN. AMEN. AMEN. AMEN! My husband and I have been burned so many times in ministry because we are so bold to state what too many pastors simply will NOT.
We (Christians) forget that God is sovereign -- We forget that HE is the Creator. -- We forget that HE Knows What HE's doing!

And I think too that we get ourselves in trouble in that we see "suffering" only for what our American English definition says it is. And in that sense, "suffering" is always a negative. God's Word says differently.

WONDERFUL Words today!
Kindest Thoughts,

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