There is the unquestionable presence of affliction that is present in our lives. Affliction is the general term for specific instances of trials, tribulations, persecutions, emotional or physical pain and suffering.
The ancient Assyrians used the word for “affliction” as the same word to describe their method of a public execution, which involved being impaled to the ground. Rocks were gradually piled high until the victim expired. The combination of being impaled and the rocks piled on you was quite devastating.
And you know what? That is a terribly specific concept of what afflictions feel like. Just ask someone, it is exceedingly terrible to be in pain and feel ‘buried’ at the same time. There is a feeling of suffocating in suffering. Some have described it, like being ‘hit with a 2×4’. You have just been completely blindsided.
In the letters from the Early Church there was a patentability, or openness when it came to persecution and pain. The writers of the New Testament operated out of a profound awareness of the pain of the believers of their day.
- “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” 2 Cor. 1:8
- “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.” 2 Cor. 4:8
- “You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.” 2 Cor. 7:4
‘The Ostrich Effect’ in Affliction
One of the most extensive arguments concerning ‘affliction’ develops around the nature of the atonement. The thought is that Jesus died and rose to bless me. Sin and sickness, poverty or lack are not part of God’s plan for the redeemed.
Now, it is possible to refute this in this little post. But I will try to nudge you a bit to examine the issues of the Early Church. Know however that there are many people who will follow the ostrich’s example and bury their heads to avoid reality of affliction. But, I can understand this impulse– this desire to honor God, even if we “play word games” with our faith.
I also know first-hand that the struggles are hard. Wrestling with them is a brutal way to live the abundant life. Failure and frustration are trying to short circuit our faith. And our faith must be protected and valued.
“Afflictions add to the saints’ glory. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles; the heavier the saints’ cross is, the heavier will be their crown.”
What Does the Scripture Say About Affliction?
- “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12
- “…where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22
- “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“The wisdom of God appears in afflictions. By these He separates the sin which He hates, from the son whom He loves. By these thorns He keeps him from breaking over into Satan’s pleasant pastures, which would fatten him indeed, but only to the slaughter.”
-James H. Aughey
I want to try to visit this subject again. We will trust that ‘real light’ will come to our twilight worlds.
- Times of Affliction (viannespen.wordpress.com)
- Afflicted but Silent (cbnindiablogs.wordpress.com)
- The Joy of Lamentation (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Too Close, Too Hurtful, Too Important (exegete77.wordpress.com)
- “Father… This One Is Mine!” (nnyphishnet.net)
- Three Encouraging Things To Know About Trouble (roykirkwood.com)
- “Comforting the Afflicted & Afflicting the Comfortable” James 1:9-11 (shawnethomas.com)