April 20, 2006

The Oxymoron of Good Affliction

I have noticed in my own life that when things are going well, when everything in my life is functioning the way it is supposed to... Those are the times that my study of God's Word tends to fall to the bottom of my to-do list. I don't intend for this to happen, but reading my Bible and praying are at the back of my mind.

Now, this doesn't make any sense at all. You would think that when things are going well, I would have more time and more energy to spend in prayer and Bible study, but the exact opposite thing usually happens. Oh, I get comfortable and all, and then I forget to make these things a priority. I forget their importance to my daily life.

Once, when Jesus would have been hungry, his disciples offered him bread, but instead of taking the bread, he replies, "...man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word of God."

Yet here I am, living on the bread and forgetting the Word. Then along comes some trial.

You know what I am talking about don't you? Everything seems fine when all of a sudden, wham! It hits!

Now things are different in your head. At the very forefront of your brain is the thought, "...I must read my Bible! God I need you! I need to hear from you!" So, you begin to read your Bible, but not just casually anymore. You are reading it fervently, desperately, hoping to find some glimmer of hope and some semblance of comfort. Your being cries out to hear from God.

David experienced this often. You can't read through the Psalms without noticing it. Once he put it this way,

My eyes fail for your Word,
While saying, "When will You comfort me?!?"

(Psalm 119:82 - Jay Adams Translation)


You are reading your Bible and praying like there is no tomorrow. Your eyes are drying out, your body is weak as you seek after God. Your conscience is suddenly a little bit more tender, so you start eliminating those things from your life that you always knew you shouldn't have had there to begin with. In your desperation, you find that you are adhering to God's word because they are the Words of Life.

You may even be able to say with David,
Before I was afflicted I went astray
But now I have kept your word.

(Psalm 119:67 - Jay E. Adams Translation)

Affliction has brought so many of us back to God. Our thoughts, which have been meandering away from the truth, are throttled back into place. Our view is now changed. Affliction is good to us because of the good God that we serve. Consider two final verses before you go.

68 You are good, and what you do is good;
     teach me your decrees.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
     so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
     than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

(NIV)


Check out the book,

Counsel from Psalm 119
by Jay E. Adams