Thursday, June 21, 2012

DOES GOD AFFLICT HIS CHILDREN?

Does God afflict His own children? Listen to the psalmist's answer: "For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place" (Psalm 66:10-12).

The psalmist is saying, "Lord, You put me in waters so high over my head that I thought I would drown. You put me into the fire, to try me as silver is tried. You brought me into a net, laid affliction on me, caused men to trounce on me!"

Why did God allow such afflictions? It was because He was bringing His beloved child into a "wealthy place." In the original Hebrew this phrase means "a place of abundant fruitfulness." God is saying, "I'm taking you through all these hard places to make you fruitful for My kingdom."

Yet not all afflictions are from the hand of God. Many troubles come from the devil himself, straight from the pits of hell. "For he [God] doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:33). God says, "I get no joy out of afflicting My children. That is not My purpose in allowing troubles." No, the Lord allows our afflictions only for His eternal purposes, to bring us into a "wealthy place."

I cringe with amazement as I remember all the sorrows, trials, deep waters, flaming fires and powerful afflictions I have seen over the years. And usually when afflictions came, they came not just one at a time, but in bundles. Many times I thought, "There is no way I can make it through this." Even the memories of afflictions are painful — memories of slander, chastenings of the Lord, ministry trials, personal buffetings, family problems, bodily pains and aches. Yet, as I recall those years of suffering, I can say with assurance, "God's Word is true. He brought me out of every affliction that came upon me and I praise Him!"