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Afflicted For Christ

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:1-4 NKJV

A man who is never tested never grows.

A man who is never tested never grows. A man who never grows remains as he is, unmoved and unwilling to become that which God desired him to be.


In our flesh, we want nothing to do with affliction. We desire an easy life. We want nothing complicated to come our way. When difficult things come, we often complain, argue, bicker, or “go off the rails.” We become reactive to the situation instead of drawing near to God.


Instead of proving ourselves as good workmen for the Lord, we become leaves in the wind. We allow the tornado of life to spiral us out of control. Our emotions take over. We don’t think clearly or rationally. Ultimately, we become reactive and are not balanced on the Firm Foundation of Him Who is Truth.

Many speak of the Word and believe in God, but few live in that belief. For how quickly we get set off course and allow circumstance to dictate how we live and react.

Many speak of the Word and believe in God, but few live in that belief. For how quickly we get set off course and allow circumstance to dictate how we live and react. When this occurs, the Devil has found an excellent opportunity to toy with. He sends his legions to torment us who are going through a difficulty of some sort.


When the Enemy sees God’s people being afflicted, he loves to swarm us with doubts, deception, lies, torment, and uncontrolled desire to distract ourselves of the duty to which we are called.

The sad part about those afflicted for Christ is that they often do not see that many times it is God’s appointed cross for them to bear.

The sad part about those afflicted for Christ is that they often do not see that many times it is God’s appointed cross for them to bear. How can we grow if we are never tested? How can we change and transform if we are never afflicted?

Does a man or woman go to Heaven without some adversity and strife? There is no such thing.

Does a man or woman go to Heaven without some adversity and strife? There is no such thing. God allows these to take place to grow us towards Him and grow us in virtue.

Those who never grow will never know God on a deeper level.

Those who never grow will never know God on a deeper level. They will remain on the surface of where they began. They will not allow God’s hand to move in their lives. They will not seek God in a sound, calm pursuit.


We often go to God amid affliction with a tone of resentment and anger. We shout at Him and demand answers. Little do we know that our approach is one that we would not speak to our boss face-to-face or a leader in high authority.


Though we live in an age where anything can be twisted, and multitudes triggered, those with a sound mind will most times respectfully speak to those in authority when brought face-to-face.


Why is it we treat God so differently? Is it because our emotions have taken control of us instead of us ruling our emotions? Is it because we are so weak that a little tweak off schedule becomes a storm we believe we shall never overcome? Those who are led by their emotions and are internally weak will enhance the perception of a current affliction. What will soon pass will become something that disrupts their spirit and destroys their day.


Think of it - what affliction happened roughly two years ago to us that was minor? Taking time to think, we will most likely be unable to come up with an answer. Even if we are, it shall take some time.


Why can’t we think of minor adversity immediately or even at all? Because it is unimportant. It is no longer occurring. We have moved on, and it no longer possesses us. So to should it be in the moment of a present difficulty.


If we had the spiritual maturity to see ourselves in the future an hour later, a day later, or a week later, we would see that these minor afflictions are nothing. Eventually, it will no longer be part of our lives.


If we could see ourselves as overcoming that affliction by looking into the future, we shall not be so much led by our emotions in the present. This, of course, takes the ability to reason and listen.


Few there be who will do as such because many want to either blame things as the reason that they are where they are or what they are. Even still, many do not want to control themselves, even though Scripture declares, "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NKJV).


We must know that God cares when we are afflicted, but our afflictions are often blown out of proportion. We allow technological difficulties or having to call a service line to get something fixed to become equated with the loss of a loved one, a detrimental report from the doctor, or the sickness of a child.

We must learn to control ourselves to prevent ourselves from being controlled by the torments and temptations of the Enemy.

We must learn to control ourselves to prevent ourselves from being controlled by the torments and temptations of the Enemy. If we do not, we shall be destroyed in the process.

Affliction allows us to grow in God and reflect on where we are with Him.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71 ESV). Affliction allows us to grow in God and reflect on where we are with Him. When we are afflicted, it is either given by God or by our own doing. If we are afflicted because of something we did that was contrary to God and His Word, then we are fully responsible.


If we take time to assess the situation, we can then change the trajectory of how we have been living. Afflictions can lead us to God and His Word and help us see if our lifestyle and actions are congruent with what the Word declares.

Without a heart change, circumstances will not change but will continue to enhance.

If something is off-base, it is a heart change that needs to occur. Without a heart change, circumstances will not change but will continue to enhance. This is solely due to our neglect of wanting to be reproved and change.

Those who remain as they are never do much good. Those who refuse to change are slaves to their wants of comfort, complacency, ease, and excuse. They become their worst enemy because they are the reason for where they are.

Those who remain as they are never do much good. Those who refuse to change are slaves to their wants of comfort, complacency, ease, and excuse. They become their worst enemy because they are the reason for where they are.


When we are not afflicted because of our own doing, we can rejoice in the Lord when we are born again. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

What we receive in the next life reveals how we lived in this life.

Afflictions are growth opportunities. Those who grow shall receive greater reward, position, and status in Heaven. We do not strive for these but for a life lived for the glory of God. These are just a byproduct and representation of how we lived and responded to what God both brought our way and permitted while on earth. What we receive in the next life reveals how we lived in this life.


Paul the Apostle shall receive much because he suffered much for the sake of Christ. He declares, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 ESV).


The next time we desire to have a pity party, may we go to 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 (ESV) and see that what Paul went through is far beyond anything we ever will:


“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

God cares for us and loves us. He will see us through our afflictions. He does not leave us stranded. We leave ourselves stranded when we refuse to seek God and give Him glory amid our suffering.

God cares for us and loves us. He will see us through our afflictions. He does not leave us stranded. We leave ourselves stranded when we refuse to seek God and give Him glory amid our suffering.

When we do not deny ourselves and take up our cross, we do a disservice to Christ’s name. We become selfish because we cannot endure a little suffering for Him Who endured the greatest suffering of all.

When we do not deny ourselves and take up our cross, we do a disservice to Christ’s name. We become selfish because we cannot endure a little suffering for Him Who endured the greatest suffering of all.

Christ took on the total weight of our sin and took in the fullness of God’s wrath, and we still complain when trifles occur between neighbors and friends.

Christ’s body was completely unrecognizable as He hung on the Cross. Christ took on the total weight of our sin and took in the fullness of God’s wrath, and we still complain when trifles occur between neighbors and friends.


We are feeble, flawed humans who quickly forget God and neglect our salvation. We must learn to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 ESV).

How can we grow in trusting God? By allowing present difficulties to occur and trusting God to see us through. Not merely in word, but in disposition of the heart and the way we choose to proceed.

How can we grow in trusting God? By allowing present difficulties to occur and trusting God to see us through. Not merely in word, but in disposition of the heart and the way we choose to proceed. For we must “know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV).

Renewal occurs when we acknowledge that renewal needs to happen and we go immediately to God.

“​So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV). Renewal occurs when we acknowledge that renewal needs to happen and we go immediately to God.


“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:17-20 ESV).


No matter the affliction, whether large or small, external or internal, God shall deliver us in His time. We don’t like His timing, and because of this, we fall short in trusting Him and His promises.

Those who live in the present are not discouraged by the past or anxious about the future.

If we learned not to live so rushed and wanting to escape that which God has allowed, we would be much more at peace. Those who live in the present are not discouraged by the past or anxious about the future. They endure their affliction for the sake of Christ.


For “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11 ESV). If God took care of Job (one of the saints who went through the worst afflictions known to man in a short period), then He will see us through.


If God blessed Job at the end of his affliction, will not God be with us? Even if it is not in this life, the blessings to come far exceed anything we can conjure up or understand. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV).


May we “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 ESV). God loves us and wants to help us through our affliction, but we must first allow Him to do so. We can negate what He desires to do by our selfish will and lack of desire to change and endure.


May we never forget the words of Christ in John 16:33 (ESV): “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”


Let us live in the victory of Christ, set our eyes upon God, stay in His Word, and persevere. For ““the one who endures to the end will be saved”” (Matthew 24:13 ESV).


PRAYER


God of Glory, Who is, and was, and is to come, blessed Art Thou. You alone, O Lord, are to be worshiped and praised. God, we humble ourselves before You. We confess that we have overreacted and allowed tiny trifles to be seen as if they were significant problems. God, give us strength to endure and persevere to the very end. Help us not to allow circumstances and events to disrupt our spirits and drift us from You. God, may we know that all things pass within Your time. May we allow ourselves to be afflicted for You. May we understand that it is because of You we can rejoice amid our adversity and affliction. Give us the Grace in the days ahead to endure what You allow and permit into our lives. May we forever grow in the good times and the difficult times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lance VanTine

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