Psalm 119:67 “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word”.
Fun times. Huh. I had the trial of my life start a year after I was saved. It continued for seven years. I naively thought that was it, but my walk with God has been a continuous roller coaster of various types of affliction.
Matthew 7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”.
More good news. The way is hard. Let’s picture the Christian life like a river. We begin to flow along the mainstream. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is a raging current. Sometimes we get lost in an eddy, and need help getting back to the main stream. It looks something like this.
Affliction comes into our life and we are pushed into the middle of a raging river. The more we are afflicted the more we need God, and the more dependent we become upon Him to get through. Affliction keeps us in the hard current for a while. Great things can happen when the current is hard. Things that would never happen in a calm steady stream.
If we are observant we can pick up themes of what God is doing in our life. He wants to teach us something, what is it? He wants to draw us nearer to Him, and to do that He must rid sin from our life. What is the focus? Within the pressure, sadness, and grief of the moment what do you feel pressure to look at in your life?
When I left a para-church ministry I led for seven years I was a mess inside and out. I had been serving God, but at the same time had lost Him. I had let serving Him consume me to the point that I was physically exhausted, lost my identity, neglected my family, and let my relationship with Him dissolve.
God took that mess and began to fix it. He used depression, sadness, confusion, crisis, and grief to make things right. I hit the raging current, and some big rocks when God made it clear I was to leave the ministry, and two years later I am just beginning to see the mainstream on the horizon. Before I get too comfortable again there are still plenty of afflictions to deal with, but they are getting easier to handle, and aren’t as often.
When we read the stories of Joseph, Job, Paul and the other saints we can recognize themes of affliction in their lives. We can see that they were kept desperate for God, and kept from becoming conceited. Our stories are similar. There is an amazing work that God is doing in the hard way.
Look, listen, and watch. What does He want to teach you? What sin does He want to rid from your life? How is He preparing you to serve Him in greater way?
Don’t give up. This has purpose, and you are not alone.