Victory Over Affliction #4

So we plow on in this miniseries on “Victory in Our Affliction”. 

 

This is part 4.

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 Part 1 is here–https://brokenbelievers.com/2010/09/23/victory-in-the-middle-of-affliction/ 

Part 2 is here–https://brokenbelievers.com/2010/10/19/more-victory-in-our-affliction/ 

Part 3 is here–https://brokenbelievers.com/2010/10/26/even-more-victory-in-our-affliction/

  

Afflictions Help Us Comfort Others

“Blessed be the(B) God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and(C) God of all comfort, 4(D) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”   2 Cor. 1:3-4, ESV

 

Being afflicted with pain and suffering manuevers us into the place of being the source of comfort for others.  God’s comfort energizes us to touch others.  So many hurt.  They are overwhelmed by pain and live in misery. A dynamic is at work here.  My pain brings God’s comfort.  God’s comfort is transmitted to others by me.  They are blessed and are strengthened to go on and touch others.

But its all about the ‘proper use of afflictions’.  Will we ‘turn’ and become active in the special economy of God?  We must accept that God intends our affliction to be the way of blessing for others.  When we hurt so bad, we see that grace flows to those who need Him the most.

How Do We Respond to the Pain?

First of all, we cannot escape affliction.  It is inevitable.  But will it bless us and others?  Pain has an intentionally deliberate purpose for us.  Since we cannot escape the pain, it would behoove us to take it and manufacture comfort for others.  We must learn to make affliction fruitful. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together(A) for good,[a] for(B) those who are called according to his purpose. 

Rom. 8:28, ESV

Keeping the ‘valves and lines’ open involves special attention to the sins of bitterness and anger.  These two are responsible for a great deal of frustration and impotence in the Christian’s walk.

First, We Need to Praise the Lord.

Coming and then staying in this place is critical.  We need to learn to praise from the ‘ash heap’.  “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.”  1 Thess. 5:18, CEV.  Your heart must not become bitter, you must keep it sweet and responsive. “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy”  James 1:2

 

Second, We Should Pray.

James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” From the ash heap we should be in prayer.  Praying at this time should be as important as praise.  Our devotional life needs to lift a notch into these dual disciplines.  By the way, prayer is an immense blessing to our our pain.  Its like aloe vera to a bad sunburn.  Prayer has a soothing and restorative effect on our blistered spirit.

 

Third, We Should Feed at His Word.

We are instructed, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.”  Ps. 119:67.  When you hurt, really bad it will make your time with the Bible and its promises so precious.  When I’m in pain the Word is the most precious thing I can think of.  A topical Bible can be very helpful.

“When I am hurting,  I find comfort in your Word that leads me to life.”  Ps. 119:50

“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”  Ps. 119:92

 

Four, We Should Strive to be Patient and to Have Faith.

This is not a wooden or artificial issue.  We must deliberately choose this direction, daily.  Patience is foundational and fundamental.  With it, you will survive, without it things will get ugly quick.  “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  Rom. 12:12

Faith and patience will bring us a confidence.  When we ‘believe’ with a dynamic faith, we will be able to absorb some intense issues.  If you have ever driven a car with blown shock absorbers, you will understand.

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1:4

Polluted Hearts

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

John 10:3

But God’s strong foundation continues to stand. These words are written on the seal: “The Lord knows those who belong to him,” and “Everyone who wants to belong to the Lord must stop doing wrong.”

 

2 Timothy 2:19

Identity is necessary.  We can only prosper if we know who and exactly what we are.  This may seem basic, but it’s coming at us through a culture that is murky and foul.  The world offers up an evil concoction that pollutes and contaminates all that it can.

Our identity is exclusively based on what the Lord has done.  It is we who must ‘catch-up’.  He calls us by name, which staggers us and causes us to doubt.  Who are we, and why us?  We must deal with this ‘calling’ business– their must be some kind of mistake.

But Lord knows.  In spite of all that we know about ourselves, He entertains Himself of a more subterranean assessment of us.  He simply scoops us up, deeper and wider than we can spread out our pollution.  He picks us up beyond our ability to contaminate.  We are His, with all our foulness and evil attached.

We now have an identity.  We have become His possession.  Gummy, sticky decay and all.  We are transferred out of a poisonous and ugly situation to be transplanted into a wholesome and healing environment.  This is radical, and cannot be manipulated by our effort or control.

We find ourself to be transplanted into a good place.  And it is there where we receive our new name.  With that new name comes a new identity, and purpose.  We are no longer poisonous or toxic to others.  We cannot defile them with our concentrated evil.  Our new name begins to affect us and others.  He deals with us in a radically different manner.

He starts to lead us out by name.  This brings us a security and a contentment we have never known.  We belong to Him!  That realization is profound and staggering.  Who are we, that He should be so kind?  Our lives were embedded with evil, and darkness of every kind imaginable.  Now we are His?

He knows all that is His.  He has marked us and led us through the pollution.  We pass through the toxicity and the filth and He intends to bring us all the way out and all the way home.  We do nothing, but say ‘yes’!  It’s then we realize that we can do nothing to save ourselves.  He is quite solitary about salvation and He intends to receive eternal glory for your deliverance.

 

Hiding From the Light

Then Jesus said to them, “Do you hide a lamp under a bowl or under a bed? No! You put the lamp on a lampstand. 

Mark 4:21

 

To hide something means you don’t want it found.  You make an effort to keep it from coming to anyone’s attention.   It’s curious though, that we would go to all this effort to light a lamp, only to turn around and find a place to hide this same lamp.

However, hiding the light doesn’t make it go away.  We do try, however.  But light comes and its effects can not be hidden.  It shines on us, illuminates us, and makes us shine.  The urge to hide light seems to be a regular occurence among us.  We want what we’ve been given to avoid detection.

Adam and Eve had this impulse to avoid detection.  It seems that it is something we do rather well, this ‘camoflage’ business.  If we would stop for a moment and think about it, it does seem ridiculous. The reality is that life has been poured into us, and foolishness should be eradicated by now.

Light simply infuses us, and we become radient by His presence.  We could try to fabricate the light, but it is His work in our hearts.  We must move beyond our reluctance and embrace this display and magnification of His presence.