Character is Forged in the Furnace of Affliction Part 1
by Gilly Mathiesen
Most of us experience the furnace of suffering at some point or another in life. It can be losing a job, relational strife, sickness in the family, persecution, a traumatic event we weren’t expecting or a monumental loss. The list continues.
God is right with us in that place, and wants to walk with us through the process, bringing comfort and sustenance and ultimately hope.
In Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) we read a precious verse about suffering which says, ’because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope’.
Most of us are aware that sinful choices may lead to consequences and suffering. As a result of this, we may equate all suffering as a sign we have done something wrong, subconsciously thinking God has removed His blessings from us. This however does not line up with God’s word. Isaiah 53 tells us that Jesus was familiar with suffering, a man of sorrows. Hebrews 5:11 (NKJV) states that ‘Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.’ It is interesting to note that Jesus, who was without sin, suffered and yet out of it came a beautiful fruit, that of obedience.
We can struggle to understand why suffering has to happen at all. And we can perhaps wonder why Jesus, God’s son, had to suffer so much. Suffering can also come because of the fallen world we are a part of and is something we can’t avoid. But how do we approach it from a godly perspective?
Over my next few devotionals, let’s look at several cases from the Bible to see what we can glean from them:
Can we suffer as a result of going astray?
King David was a man after God’s own heart, but he opened a door to bad choices and experienced suffering as a result. Affliction got David’s attention and caused him to come back to his senses and get back on track with the Lord. He found the Lord in the middle of his mess. He missed the mark more than once through sinful choices, yet in Psalm 119, he acknowledges the goodness of God, the goodness which led him to repentance and back into right-standing before the Lord.
‘Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good and do good;
teach me Your statutes … It is good for me, that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes’ (Psalm 119:67-68, & 71, NKJV).
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