It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. - Psalm 119v71
‘It is good that I have been afflicted.’ How is that for a seeming oxymoron? It is good to suffer? How is that?
I don’t like affliction. I don’t like troubles. I don’t like to hurt. I don’t like to suffer. I don’t like it when people I love go through affliction. I don’t like it when people I hear about suffer. I don’t like affliction.
How is it that affliction is good? I have to admit that my mind says that surely there must be a better way. Couldn’t we gain without pain? Do we really have to go through affliction to see spiritual growth?
While I admit that I still don’t get it, I do have a thought. A couple of years ago I realised that I had to do something about my fitness. I was well over 14 stone (200 pounds, 90kg). I felt like a massive tub of lard. My doctor was on my back. My blood pressure was giving me trouble. As much as I hated it I knew I had to do something. I started watching what I ate. I don’t really like that, but that is not a big deal.
But I also realise that I had to exercise. We bought a Wii and that got me started. I don’t use the Wii much anymore, but I try to walk or cycle any day that the weather lets me. Sometimes I have to get up early to get my exercise in. Many days my old bones ache when I am done. I sweat. My legs hurt. My feet hurt.
I could avoid all those inconveniences and aches and pains. I could just quit putting myself through all that. But what would the long term effect be? I would be right back where I was. Though I still have a way to go I am in much better shape than I was then, but it took ‘affliction’ to get here.
I think that is what God is telling us here. It takes affliction to wake us up. It takes affliction to grow.
It is good to go through affliction. If we let it, it will do its work and drive us to the word of God for His answers and for a relationship to Him.
I guess the axiom ‘no pain, no gain’ even applies to our spiritual lives.