If God is “for me”, why should I have afflictions at all, much less ‘many’ of them?
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out them all.” -Psalm 34:19
Yesterday’s post was a reminder that for all of those who are “in Christ”, God is FOR them and on their side. When the hard times come, though, it’s often difficult to understand why we suffer. While there are no easy answers, here are three things to consider…
1) Wired in to the fabric of the universe are patterns of cause and effect. For instance, you probably have no trouble completing these sentences:
– “What goes up, must _________.”
– “If you play with fire, you’re going to __________.”
Sometimes afflictions come simply because of natural cause and effect and it is God’s love that may allow us to reap what we sow so that we won’t continue to sow destruction.
2) In a sin-stained world, there will always be a war of opposition against those who follow God by those who don’t. This is a reality of the effect of sin, but it is God’s love that remains with us and gives us the strength and courage to persevere in the midst of persecution.
3) This is the big one, the one that takes much reminding for most of us. Ponder this question: what parent coddles their child and isolates them from all potential harm in the first few days after their birth? Hopefully every parent! It is a basic principle of good child-rearing that the weak and helpless infant must be sheltered and protected so they may develop well.
However, if they are kept isolated and “safe” for too long, the child will not develop well at all. They will not be strengthened by adversity, grown in character through conflict or encouraged by triumph over trials. If the parent forces their child to live in a bubble of security forever, they have not helped them, but rather stolen from them one of the foundational joys of human existence: the thrill and satisfaction of overcoming adversity.
So it is with our Father in Heaven.
Afflictions are not only inevitable, but are often at times an expression of God’s love in allowing us the opportunity to experience victory. The Psalm says that “many are the afflictions of the righteous”, but it also provides a glowing promise: “the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19b)
What joy! What hope! In the time of affliction, all those made righteous by Christ may take heart at the certainty of their deliverance. We may not know what form God’s deliverance will take, but it’s coming. We may not know when God’s deliverance will arrive, but it’s coming. We are often given no concrete particulars concerning God’s deliverance, but the principle and the promise are rock-solid and secure.
God is indeed the deliverer of His people, and when the moment at last arrives, without fail our deliverance will appear to transport us to victory in and through Christ.