Suffering and affliction are some of the most touchy topics in Christianity. So many, after coming to Christ, expect that all their problems are simply going to disappear. This is a promise that is never expressed in scripture… in fact quite the opposite. I believe the Christian would do well to understand the Biblical perspective of affliction. Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) brings some great encouraging words on the issue:
God afflicts us for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Afflictions are the mother of virtue. God’s house of correction is His school of instruction. All the stones that came about Stephen’s ears did but knock him closer to Christ, the Corner-stone. The waves did but lift Noah’s ark nearer to heaven. Afflictions lift the soul to more full enjoyments of God. “Behold, I will lead her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her” (Hosea 2:14).
When was it that Stephen saw the heavens open, and Christ standing at the right hand of God, but when the stones were about his ears, and there was but a short step between him and eternity? And when did God appear in glory to Jacob, but in the day of his troubles, when the stones were his pillows, and the ground his bed, and hedges his curtains, and the heavens his canopy? Then he saw the angels of God ascending and descending in their glittering robes.
I pray that God would open your heart to see His perspective on suffering and affliction. When we move away from the mindset that God has abandoned us, or is angry with us, and into the position that our momentary afflictions are opportunities to grow, opportunities for blessing, opportunities for miracles, opportunities for glory… oh! How different our attitude would be!
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
2nd Corinthians 4:17 (ESV)