Fifteen years ago, I started thinking how good it might be to have a handbook that Christians could use concerning our particular language; the ordinary vocabulary that believers could study about our everyday life in Christ. All those years I shared some of this work with three of our granddaughters. Two years ago, we put together a list of words using the English alphabet to form Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian.
Part-way through the list of A’s, we have been overwhelmed with our research and believe that this is a valued gift for all Christians. We come this week to the word AFFLICTION, one that will surprise and amaze all who truly understand how this word applies to us as God’s children.
We may not like what God’s Word teaches us, but hopefully, we will come away with a greater understanding of why we as God’s children have to endure AFFLICTION.
We are using a lot of references and not a lot of my own comments so God’s Word can speak for itself. Please take time to read these, so as to understand why affliction is an important element of the Christian life.
We will divide this into five areas:
The first two will be highlighted in this post.
AFFLICTION of the Israelites
Hope During AFFLICTION
The last three will be included in our next post.
AFFLICTION of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and Master
AFFLICTION of followers of Christ;
AFFLICTION within the body of Christ
AFFLICTION of the Israelites
STRONG’S defines AFFLICTION H6031 ânâh, aw-naw’ to afflict, oppress, humble All References online.
“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” Exodus 1:12 The more the Israelites were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew and became a threat to the Egyptians.
“And the LORD said , I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;” Exodus 3:7
Seeing their affliction from the Egyptians, God brought them out of Egypt. They believed, bowed their heads and worshipped. (Exodus 3:17; Exodus 4:31) Yet, afterward, they rebelled in the wilderness.
The word used for affliction is the same word used for humble; when the Lord led them out of Egypt.
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:2-3
All their suffering was meant for God to prove what was in their hearts and that they would learn that man does not live by bread only, but true life depends on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
We may not like the idea that the Lord afflicts His own people, but affliction is His means of teaching His children, to bring attention to their sin and rebellion and to turn them to repentance. He does not afflict other people for the same purpose. We will look at this further in our next post: this week’s chapter The Secret Place in Beyond a Mere Christianity.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10
“Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee.” Lamentations 1:3
“Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.” Lamentations 1:5
“I am the man (Jeremiah) that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” Lamentations 3:1
“For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Lamentations 3:33
“But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.” Amos 6:14
The Psalmist understood the Lord’s judgment and faithfulness in affliction. His afflictions are according to His judgments, His word, and His statutes.
“I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” Psalm 119:75
“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” Psalm 119:67
Hope During Affliction
“And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:” Deuteronomy 26:7
“When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;” 2 Chronicles 6:26
“I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.”Psalm 119:107
“Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.” Psalm 119:153
“Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.” Psalm 129:2
“O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction,” Jeremiah 16:19
The word is the same used for troubled when God’s people had no shepherd. Zechariah 10:2
Gracious Father in heaven looking down, even as we are looking up to you in our afflictions, have mercy upon us. Open our eyes to the truth of afflictions in generations of the past. Help us to understand why you afflicted your people then and guide us by your Spirit of truth to know that if we belong to you, you will afflict us as you see fit. Prepare our hearts through this first offering, to look further into the New Testament in our next post to see the afflictions, tribulation, and suffering of those who follow Jesus, your Son. In His name, I pray.