Perhaps during times of affliction you have almost fainted. You may have been so weak and weary you thought you couldn't go another step. But now, from where you stand, you can say, "I never want to go through that again but God brought me out. He has been faithful. Praise the Lord!"
God is not satisfied with a heartfelt "thank you" from us. Rather, He says, "Wait just a moment, My child. I did not bring you through all those troubles and afflictions just to make you a grateful overcomer. I've spent years training you, putting you through all these things for a purpose, and I'm not going to let you waste them now. I fully intend for my investment to pay off. I tell you, your best work is ahead of you!"
Now, as you emerge from your college-level afflictions, God opens your eyes to your struggling friends in kindergarten. These beloved ones don't think they can make it, so what do you do with your affliction experiences? God whispers to you, "I need seasoned, tested veterans, people who have survived deep waters and awful fires, who have been refined through suffering. I want people who will prove My faithfulness to this generation!" The psalmist writes: "That ye may tell it to the generation following" (Psalm 48:13). "Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come" (71:18).
Paul sums it all up beautifully: "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). That is saying something! When Paul wrote this, he was an older man with years of experience and he was in the midst of one of the worst trials of his life. He spoke to his friends from his heart:
"It would be the most wonderful thing right now if I could go home and be with my Lord. That is my greatest desire. But I'm a veteran; I've been through afflictions and trials and I know I'm needed here. This generation needs to see a sufferer who survives and rejoices in any affliction. My son Timothy is going to face all that I've faced, and he needs to know that God will bring him through. So, it is best that I stay and endure these deep afflictions. Look at me! Not only have I survived, but I have true hope. I'm not down or depressed. I rejoice in the Lord for all He has brought me through!"