Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is There Purpose in Affliction?

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"Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression?"  
Ps 44:22-24


Wow. Just wow. 

For the past two weeks, I have received so many prayer requests from friends who are truly hurting....

  • Loss of a baby
  • Death of a father
  • Job loss
  • Financial issues
  • Cancer diagnosis
  • Surgery recovery
  • Marriage problems

...and many more! The Lord has brought so many to mind during my morning prayers that I am weary. My heart is breaking! I cry out to the Lord!

And He hears me.


For the last 4 weeks I have been in a Bible study on the Book of Habakkuk and I have gleaned much from this book. 

I have learned that there is a purpose for affliction and I have learned that it comes from the Lord.

Is there comfort in knowing that?

I suppose there can be. 

All I know is, the Lord created the nation of Babylon for one purpose only:

To afflict His people, Israel. 

Can you imagine that? A nation is born for one reason only... to wreak havoc on God's people. 

Why? To bring them back to Him.
When? During a great time of apostasy and idolatry.

"We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
You drove out the nations with Your hand,
But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out."  
Ps 44:1-2


Why does God allow us to be afflicted with pain and suffering?

Answer: to bring true believers near to Him.

Habakkuk realized who God was during the time of affliction. He asked God questions and got answers. And as a result, Habakkuk saw the attributes of the Lord. 

He remembered the God whom he served.

Asaph was conflicted when he saw how the wicked prospered even though they were afflicting God's people. And the result? Asaph almost stumbled. But he entered the sanctuary of the Lord and saw how it ends for the wicked. 

"Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked."  
Ps 73:1-2

"When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me—
Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end."  
Ps 73:16-17

He remembered the God whom he served.

God Hears

As you can see, affliction is there to force us to look at God and NOT our circumstances. 

"...For He hears the cry of the afflicted."  

Job 34:28

If anyone was afflicted in Scriptures, it was Job. And yet he remembered his God.

I love to pray for others who are in need because I know the Lord hears me. I have faith that He will go the those in need and comfort them. 

I know He is faithful.

And just this week, I have learned that God has answered my prayers and is helping some of my friends. 

And the others? They are still in need, but I know God is with them getting them through the storm.

Storms are scary. 

My friend, Pam, reminded me of the story of when Peter walked on the water and only began to sink when he took his eyes off the Lord and focused more on the storm and his circumstances. 

"...But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out 
His hand and caught him, and said to him, 
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased."
  Matt 14:30-31


Ahhh, peace. We all crave it.

To have peace, we can learn from Peter...never take our eyes off Christ during the storm! 

My prayer for those of you suffering right this moment is that you would draw closer to the Lord during this time of affliction.

Draw near to Him! 



And listen for Him.

It is there in the midst of the storm that He reaches out his hand to save us! When we look at our surroundings, we miss it. 

We miss that opportunity to grasp His hand and be saved

Trust the Lord. The wind will cease. The calm will come. Draw near to Him!

And there will be peace again.

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  
Ps 73:25-26


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