Man born of woman is short of days and full of trouble. He blossoms like a flower, then withers; he flees like a shadow and does not last. - Job 14:1-2 HCSB
I recently went through two years of agonizing pain and confinement to a wheelchair. I also permanently lost a lot of my hearing. Though I did not enjoy the experience, I can testify that I have grown tremendously through it.
Tribulation is a part of earthly experience and comes from the hand of God. He may afflict in order to train us, in order to punish us, or He may allow the natural consequences of sin (whether our own, others’ or humanity’s) to oppress us. He actually considers chastisement a mark of His love!
We usually claim God’s sovereignty when things work out the way we like. However, we cannot claim that God is sovereign with one side of our mouth and then disavow His affliction with the other. He said, “I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”
One way or the other, God is responsible. He allowed a famine and disease to take Naomi’s family. He allowed Job to lose everything simply to prove a point to the devil and to Job. He afflicted the nation of Israel when they disobeyed. He punished the psalmist for sin. He afflicted Ezekiel to get a message across to the people of Israel. In fact, affliction could be considered one of the prerequisites of being one of His ministers!
However, not all afflictions are for specific sins. God often sends affliction to purify and strengthen our faith, for His glory. The rabbis taught that “there is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity.” Their misconception had led them to the point that they were even capable of thinking that a child could sin in the womb or that its soul might have sinned in a preexistent state. They also held that terrible punishments came on certain people because of the sin of their parents but Jesus plainly contradicted these beliefs.
The psalmist was thankful for affliction, because it taught him to keep God’s precepts. Afflictions will sometimes go on for a long time but true believers however will not give up under afflictions because they understand that affliction can have a refining influence.
No discipline is pleasant, but later on we enjoy its fruit . We must neither make light of God’s discipline nor lose heart because of it. Holding these views is an impossible task for a human. The fact that the Ransomed routinely go through horrific situations with grace is a testament to the wonderful strength of our Savior.
We comfort ourselves in the knowledge that God is aware of our sufferings. Hashem will never give us more than we can bear but will always deliver us.
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