Affliction and Thanksgiving

Way back in the book of Hosea, in Verse 5:15, it says “… in their affliction, they will ernestly seek Me.”

Affliction is a natural element of human existence. It will not be escaped. The big problem with affliction often is, that we may think in times of affliction that we are alone, and that perhaps even, God has abandoned us. Something about these trials heightens our awareness of the temporary nature of things, the frailty of life, and other things as well.

But it’s in these times, if we do not rely only on “our” strength, and turn to Him, that we can discover He is right there, ready to bring light, hope, encouragement, strength and positive resolution in our hearts that He not only is aware, but intimately available to our hearts and minds.

Here are a few points to remember if you are walking through a season of affliction.

1. God Hears You

David said, “I love the Lord, because He has heard me…Because He has inclined His ear to me…” (Psalm 116:1)

God is listening to you! He hears you! Though you may feel alone and distinctly un-heard, He is listening. Sometimes we want someone to vent to who will listen and care, and won’t judge. So much of the frustration in our lives, in our families, in our businesses, in our country, or in politics is because both sides talk, but neither feel heard.

But hear this! When no one else listens, God listens!

He hears our cry. He hears our suffering. He hears our prayer. He hears our pain. He hears our struggle. And He is ever–ready to respond.

2. Jesus is Touched by Your Feelings

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus is touched by what you feel. It matters to Him. That’s what makes Him such a great High Priest to whom we can go boldly––at the throne of grace, we receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

Jesus has deep feelings for you. And in your time of weakness, struggle, or difficulty, He will not let you go; He will not let you down.

The scripture says: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. He will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:3, NASB)

He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”

You will not be brushed aside by God. He will not disregard you. He will steady you. He will make things right in accordance with His perfect will.

3. It’s OK to Be Angry

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” (Ephesians 4:26)

Anger is not a sin. It can lead to bad decisions, but it’s OK to be angry. God created us to express our emotions upward to Him. When we do, we will lose our need to express them OUTWARD at others.

“…and do not give the devil a foothold.” (V.27) When we take our anger to God, and pray it through, we prohibit the devil from operating through our un-checked emotions.

Being “slow” to anger is a process.

1. Be in a hurry to listen. If you’re in a hurry to hear, really hear, you will be slow to speak.

2. Be slow to speak. Why? When you’re slow to speak, your emotions (including anger) will slow down. That will allow you time to think about it before you get mad about it.

3. Be slow to anger. Teach your emotions how to follow you rather than you following them. If you express your anger and emotions UP, like David did, you won’t express it OUTwardly. The best part about David is he usually finished his emotional rants with: “…Nevertheless I will trust in you.”

Nevertheless is a powerful word. It makes a statement: ” No matter what I see, feel, or what happens, NEVERTHELESS, I will trust You.

4. God Is Up to Something BiggeThan What You See

We often have a narrow perspective in our lives when we look horizontally at what’s in front of us. God has the ultimate view. From His perspective, it is finished. You win because He wins! Changing our perspective can change everything.

While Paul was in prison, he wrote, “I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12, NASB)

Paul saw the bigger picture.

Paul knew God was up to something.

Paul saw his circumstances working for the greater good.

We need to adjust our thinking from: “life is happening TO me,” and change it to: “life is happening IN me and THROUGH me.”

“God is up to something so much bigger! Joseph told his brothers, “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20, NASB) Joseph saw the bigger picture.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

If it’s not beautiful yet, give God time! He’s working on it.

Don’t be in a hurry! Except to hurry up and trust!

5. Breakthrough and the Light  Is Always on the Other Side of Darkness.

Genesis 1:2 says darkness covered the face of the deep. (You may be experiencing deep darkness personally right now.) But the story doesn’t end there.

Don’t be afraid of the dark, because it’s in the darkness that God conducts His most stunning works.

That’s why the very next verse, in Genesis 1:3 says, “Then God said, let there be light.”

In the middle of the darkness, God’s Word brought light. Darkness can’t cast out darkness, but light can. What is dark in your life right now? What is dark in the world right now?

Know that God has a breakthrough at the tip of your tongue. Just as God spoke the words: “let there be light,” and light came, He has also given you the power of life in your tongue!

The entrance of His Word brings light, Psalm 119:30 says. As you speak God’s Word, it enters the darkness and creates light in the midst of it!

Speak life. Speak light. Speak God’s powerful promises and He will speak light and life to your darkness, fear, and affliction. Even Job, after all was said and done, proclaimed in verse 42:5, ” Before all this I feel like I had only heard of You, now my eyes see you!” He came into a more full and intimate relationship with God through his affliction.

God gives us grace to find Him, see Him and embrace him in our most desperate of times.

BH/ Adapted – G. Dickow

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