The Blessings of Afflictions
Living in a hotel room with 7 kids isn’t easy.
The chaos, the noise, the mess. There are always those hours when the kids’ energy soars, and they have to get it out somehow...running, jumping, yelling. Nothing’s out of their idea box.
With as many things as we’ve gone through this year, including a wildfire, evacuation, Covid isolation, as well as other personal tragedies (You can all relate, it’s 2020, of course there will be more!), needless to say, my levels of optimism were drastically reduced.
Some things bother me more than others, but one of the things at the top of my list is a lack of order. I really struggle with joy when things are chaotic, when we lack routine, and when I can’t see clearly to a way to make any legitimate and healthy goals.
The stress and unhealthy survival skills were clearly getting to me, and a week ago I started crying out to God, “Please! Give me a way to have joy in this! Whatever the secret is to being content in this circumstance, I need it desperately!”
I was remembering Paul’s verses to the Philippian church:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
I really wanted to know the secret, whatever it was. I knew Paul had been imprisoned, beaten, endured sleepless nights, persecution, torture and hunger. He had spent nights shipwrecked and swimming in the sea. In fact, Paul had said that if it were not for his hope in Christ, he would have been of all men most miserable.
What could possibly be the secret to a life of satisfaction and joy in the middle of such misery?
The very morning that I prayed those words in my desperation, my father sent me an unexpected text. He said that I had come to his mind in his devotion that morning, which had been on suffering and hope, and that he hoped the verse would give me encouragement and help me to stand against the “prevailing winds.”
Of course I wanted to see the verse! When the Holy Spirit tells someone to send something to me, it is always exactly what I need to hear!
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
I knew immediately that this was an answer to my cry to God.
Do you know what that word “good” means in this verse? It means to delight, to take pleasure in. The word “learn” means in the original Hebrew to exercise and practice.
So I am to take great delight in each frustration or grief in the middle of something that is difficult, because it gives me the opportunity to practice and exercise what God commands:
Love. Patience. Perseverance. Self-control. Peace. Gentleness. Kindness. Faithfulness. Joy.
When my kids are losing it (because they’re in a frustrating time too!), I get a great opportunity to practice love.
When our refi fails because of the wildfires, I get a great opportunity to show trust in my loving heavenly Father to my kids.
When someone accuses me falsely, I get a great opportunity to show the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
Without these opportunities, love wouldn’t shine. Jesus wouldn’t shine through me.
“For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6
I’ll be very honest, this is something that will take perhaps a lifetime to learn and exercise. In the last week, I have started to practice this concept. Sometimes I forget about it, and give into feeling frustrated about whatever it is that is bothering me.
But I do want to tell you, I have felt such a tremendous amount of JOY as I have put this into practice this week.
Learning to delight in the difficult is what brings contentment.
My prayer for you is that you learn to delight in the difficult.
That you can trust God enough to know that He does all things for your good.
That you would use these situations to give Him glory, to show love, and to let Christ shine out of darkness.
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Halley Faville lives with her husband and children in their mountain home in Oregon.