Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wisdom and Holiness through Affliction

"When it goes badly with the godly, yet God deals well with them because, while he is inflicting evil upon them, he is doing them good. That which the text renders, 'Thou hast dealt well with thy servants,' in the Hebrew reads, 'Thou hast done good to thy servant.' 'It is good for me that I have bee afflicted' (Psalms 119:71): David does not say, 'It is good for me that I have been in prosperity,' but 'that I have been afflicted.' God does his people good by affliction in two ways:

"1. The godly grow wiser. Affliction is a school of light. Vexatio dat intellectum (trouble gives understanding). It discovers pride, earthliness, unmortified passion, which they could not have believed was in their hearts. 'If they be . . . holden in chords of affliction, then he sheweth them . . . their transgression' (Job 36:8-9). Affliction cures the eyesight.

"2. Affliction promotes holiness. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles" 'That we might be parktakers of his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). When prosperity makes grace rust, God scours us with affliction. The godly are thankful for their sufferings. God by the wholesome discipline of the cross makes them more humble, more conformed to Christ's image. The sharp frost of affliction bring on the spring flowers of grace. Now if God, while he is chastising, is doing us good, then surely he deals well with us" (Thomas Watson, The Great Gain of Godliness, p. 157).

Gracious Father, You are good in every respect. There is nothing about your being, your nature, your character, your will, your acts that is not good. Whether the rain irrigates or floods the ground, You are good for allowing the rain to fall. Whether a gentle breeze or a tornado, You are good for allowing the wind to blow. Whether to warm a home or to scorch the land, You are good for allowing the fire to burn. In sickness and in health, in prosperity or want, in times of joy or times of sorrow, everything You allow to happen in my life is good.

Lord, You have afflicted me many times in my Christian life. And there have been times when I have complained about the affliction. In doing so, I have said, "You are not good to me, Lord." How egregious! How blasphemous my sin! Oh, Lord! Please forgive me. Every time You have afflicted me, You have loved me. You have treated me well. Every time You allow affliction to fall upon me You have done so to either discipline me as a son or to test me as a servant. How good of You to do so, Lord!

I am not as wise as I should be. I am not as holy as I should be, which says to me there is yet more affliction to come my way. For I believe, by faith and according to Your Word, that when You allow me to be afflicted you increase my wisdom and You further sanctify me, making me holy. It is a fearful thing to pray for affliction. In fact, I am afraid to do so, even though You have not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power, and self--control. Might I ask instead, Father, that you give me the wisdom, discernment, faith, love, hope, strength, and courage to endure any future affliction You may allow to befall me? Do I lack faith, Father, in praying this way. I pray not!

Holy Spirit, embolden, equip, and empower me to withstand whatever afflictions may come. Help me to continue to lift up the name of King Jesus in the midst of every storm of life. It pleased the Father to afflict His Son, to crush Him, to turn His back on Him, to look upon Him as if He were sin. So great an affliction I will never experience. So great an affliction I will never be asked to endure. Can I not withstand every affliction for the glory of the one who was so greatly afflicted on my behalf? Holy Spirit, help me to endure to the end!

Thank You, Father, for loving me so much that You would allow affliction in my life in order to conform me to the image of Your Son. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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