Did you ever think our afflictions could work for us? I would say most people think afflictions, pain and suffering are were hindrance rather than help. Yet the Bible tells us these things work for us rather than against us. How can that be?
The first thing we need to see is God is the only real power there is. He is the one and only. If God be for us, who can be against us? Every time I used to hear that verse I would think “what do you mean who can be against us?” everyone else of course! Now I see that even if everyone else is against us, through God’s eyes even they turn out to be for us. What the devil means for harm God means for good.
We live in two realms at the same time. We are a spirit with a soul that lives in a body. In the soul/body realm we have pain, loss, conflict and all levels of suffering. Paul called these temporal sufferings “light affliction.” They are working for us an exceeding, eternal weight of glory. The temporal sufferings and afflictions are working for us something glorious in the eternal.
Ever so often you will hear a fellow Christian say something like “The devil sure has been after me all week!” Well, according to what we have just learned, maybe we should jump up and shout the victory rather than commiserate with them the next time. You see God is in charge even over the affliction we have to bear. The Bible says, “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” If Jesus Christ was made perfect through suffering it is only reasonable we too will have our share.
The Apostle Paul went as far as to call his sufferings fellowship. He said, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Paul wanted to “know”, I mean truly “know” Jesus Christ not just know about him but to know him in a very intimate way. When you are intimately connected with someone you do share in their sufferings. For instance if your spouse or child were going through something painful you would want to be in it with them wouldn’t you? I think Paul is so enamored with Christ he wants to experience everything there is to know of him. This is why he could count all of his losses, suffering and trials as momentary light afflictions because his focus was on the eternal weight of glory.
Afflictions seem to be just about the only thing that will get some of us to move. I remember hearing a story about eagles. The mother eagle will slowly remove some of the soft part of the nest as her young get older. It seems young eagles are sort of like teenagers. They don’t want to leave the nest either so the mother has to remove some of what makes it comfortable for them to stay home. As the young eagle becomes more and more uncomfortable in the nest eventually they will decide it has to be better somewhere else. Now it may appear to the young eagle that things are really rough, but the momma eagle knows the young one will not develop properly remaining in the nest. The point, of course, is while what the mother eagle is doing may look like it is unfair or mean; she is actually helping her offspring to mature and become what they are meant to be. It may look like afflictions for a while, but it is actually working for the young eagle. It will work for us too.