January 4, 2012

Delivered from all affliction

Today’s devotional reading is about affliction, a subject remote from my present experience, unless a big change in weather counts. We were at 80 degrees, sunny with no wind on Monday and it dropped to 50 degrees and lower, cloudy with winds on Tuesday. Unpleasant but this is hardly what the Bible calls affliction.

Today’s verse is a promise from God concerning troubles, but it also includes a statement of fact.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)
Righteous people will suffer many afflictions. This is a given. The Bible dictionary defines this word with the following: adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, plus displeasure, distress, evil, plus exceedingly, even great, grievous harm, heavy, hurtful, ill favored, mischief, misery, naught, noisome, not pleased, sad, sore, sorrow, troubled, vexed, wickedness, wretchedness, wrong. What a miserable selection of unpleasant situations.

Yet the promise balances the prediction. God says He delivers His people out of ALL of them. This word is defined with: to snatch away, defend, deliver, escape without fail, preserve, recover, rescue, rid, save, and take out. As I try to think of all the tribulation I could possibly find myself in, these words cover most of them.

Yet there is a question. Why then do God’s people suffer troubles? Why do these troubles last a long time? If He delivers, why is the deliverance slow in coming? Or why do some suffer all their lives and then die?

It might be easy to write about this today when my biggest trial is deciding what sweater to wear, but as I think about the trials in my life, I also must remember another promised that God makes.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28–29)
These verses are what God drew my attention to when He first drew me into His family. He wanted me to know that all that would happen to me had a purpose. He was planning to transform me into the image of His Son. In every good thing and every trial, I would learn how to respond as Jesus responds. More accurately, I would learn to step aside and let the Spirit of God control my life and the way I act in every situation.

Trials have a way of bringing out the selfish side of me. I like comfort. I like 80 degrees. But when the temperature drops, would Jesus grumble and let self-pity govern His attitude and actions? Not at all! I’m to remember that because even in the little trials, I am to be like Him.

Actually, I’ve learned that if I practice responding in a godly way to the little things, then I will have the spiritual muscle to respond in a godly way to the bigger things, those afflictions that are harmful, heavy, miserable, and bring much sorrow. Also, if an affliction lasts my entire life, I also need to remember that the greatest deliverance will be on that day when I step from this life into eternity, where there are no more tears or sorrow.

Lord God, I thank You for the reminder that even a change in the weather is a small test. I’ve Your promise of deliverance. The weather will warm up, or I will find some way to keep warm. But that is not the issue or the test. Will I complain? In myself, I would, but in You, and filled with Your Spirit, my deliverance will come in the form of love, joy, peace, goodness and all that Jesus is. No matter what happens, Jesus is always my Deliverer.

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