Two months ago, the day after Christmas, I made a notebook for myself to be used as my spiritual journal. I don’t like the word ‘journal’ (it’s too emotional and sappy) but really the notebook is where I write down everything that the Lord is teaching me through his Word. It’s more of a study that I am doing and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my fingers through the bible and teach me about him. The first lesson I studied in scripture I titled “Goodness in Affliction”. Verse upon verse was coming up about affliction, and how it was ‘good’ to be afflicted. At that time, I WAS NOT afflicted. I was fine. However, I dug in because I knew the Lord was teaching me something.
Here I am today…afflicted. I’m afflicted for my brother’s life, his well-being, his survival. If you need to get caught up…check out what happened. God was preparing me for this through my obedience in spending time with him and studying his truth. The series of my study went from “Goodness in Affliction” to “Suffering Leads to Sanctification” to “God’s Will.” Isn’t that the billion dollar question? What is God’s will? I believe I know now. It’s to be HOLY. Here…I’ll let you take a peek into my notebook.
GOODNESS IN AFFLICTION
*Psalm 119:7 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn from your decrees.”
-Pain is a teacher. It forces us to look beyond ourselves for help.
-Coming to the end of our rope is a hidden GIFT.
-We allow God’s strength to work, not our own strength.
-We learn, we grow, we operate out of Christ, not ourselves.
*Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
-When you are suffering, it is for a reason. Try to list positive things that could come out of it.
-Trust that God has your very best at heart.
*Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
-God uses EVERYTHING – most often the difficulties – to remake us and transform us into the likeness of Christ.
-The easiness, difficulties, grief, pain, and joy all have ONE purpose – to make us more like Jesus.
*Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”
*2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-We may always have a thorn in our side so we will rely on God’s strength and not ours.
-God heals in his own ways. Death can/may be a healing because as a Christian, death brings new life – no pain – and life in heaven.
IT IS THROUGH AFFLICTION, WHEN WE ARE DOWN TO NOTHING ELSE, THAT THEN…AND ONLY THEN…WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE BUT GOD. What else does affliction and suffering do in our lives? It brings sanctification.
SUFFERING LEADS TO SANCTIFICATION
Sancitification (noun) : the state of growing in divine grace as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion
Sanctified (adjective): to be set apart for a sacred purpose or for religious use
Sanctify (verb): to make something holy
Holy (adjective): belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power (God); sacred; set apart for a religious purpose
*1 Thessalonians 5:23 “May the God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
-Suffering brings us to a place of need. Suffering shows us how to depend on God. Suffering reveals the sin in our heart and how little we really are and how big God really is.
-Like gold being refined by fire, it is through the trials, affliction, tests, difficulties, and FIRE that the impurities in us, just like the gold, are being refined and made pure.
-Sanctification, being made holy, doesn’t happen the moment we become a Christian. It’s a process. It happens through life. It happens mostly through the trials.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S WILL? I’m glad you asked;)
*Ephesians 5:17 “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
*1 Thessalonians 4:3 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified; …”
*1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this God’s will for you.”
*Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed my the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good pleasing and perfect will.”
*1 Peter 1:13-16 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, But just as he who called you is holy, SO BE HOLY in all you do. For it is written, “Be HOLY because I am HOLY.”
-IT IS GOD’S WILL FOR US TO BE HOLY, AS HE IS HOLY.
-BEING HOLY REQUIRES SANCTIFICATION.
-SANCTIFICATION REQUIRES SUFFERING.
-THERE IS GOODNESS IN AFFLICTION…BECAUSE IT LEADS US TO GOD’S WILL…BECOMING HOLY.
So when God says in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for the GOOD of those who love him, he means it. Even when the situation looks horrible, he’s doing a work in you to transform you into the image of Jesus and to be more like his son. Now, I’ll call that a good deal any day!