Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep your word. (Psalm 119:67)
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn your statutes. (Psalm 119:71)
What amazing verses! This is wisdom, because if we learn from affliction we will be less likely to repeat the behavior that brought it about. It is the foolish that continue in a behavior even when the consequences continue to bring pain and destruction. Then to take the next step and see that affliction was good. Wow! It seems most of us take so long to see this.
It seems most of us go through three main stages in our Christian walk. The first one is the new or immature stage. When bad things happen in this early stage we tend to ask “Why did this happen to me?” This is only natural for a child isn’t it? Children are always full of questions about why?
Further along we move from asking why to ask something like “What am I suppose to learn from this?” This has the appearance of insight to it. We have learned you very seldom receive the answer to “why”, so we have moved on to the idea that these consequences are here to teach me something. While this may be true in one aspect, there is yet one more step.
Once we get past the “why is this happening to me” stage and beyond the “What am I supposed to learn in this” stage we come to the place where we begin to understand neither one of these is the ultimate response to troubles or afflictions. After those questions there is yet one more reaction when bad things happen in our lives. We eventually learn that everything that comes into our lives is for someone else. God is using us as an intercessor for someone else.
We see this illustrated clearly in the last chapter of Genesis. We read what happens when Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers. Even though most would not blame Joseph if he repaid a little evil for evil to his mean brothers he doesn’t. In fact Joseph does something amazing. He says to his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”
Joseph was mistreated, lied about and sent to prison even though he was innocent. This all started because his brothers were jealous of him and yet Joseph, even though they taunted him, never lashed back. As the story unfolds we see that if all of these “bad” things hadn’t happened to him he wouldn’t have been in a place to provide food for his brothers. We don’t read it in the text but Joseph may have asked “Why is this happening to me?” He could have possibly said, “What am I suppose to learn from this?” We don’t know if he asked either of these questions, but we do know he did eventually realize all of it happened for someone else and not just anyone else but the very ones that created all of his pain and anguish to begin with.
This reminds me of another Bible character, Jesus himself. He too gave himself in order to provide life for others. So much so that the very ones that crucified him could receive eternal life if they cried out to the Lord.
Upon receiving Christ the Holy Spirit in us continues to be an intercessor for others. Now the difference is he’s doing it through us. So you see it really isn’t about us at all, and the reason we don’t see it or deal with it so well most of the time is because we still seem to think it’s about us. Paul told us “You are not your own for you have been bought with a price…” The Apostle Paul also said, “Death works in us but life in you.” Our purchaser has plans he wants to accomplish through us and it involves a fair amount of affliction; so it helps to view them through the mind of the Spirit.
Written by Louie