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Lesson 22-3 – Understanding The Theology Of Suffering

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 1
140430 BCF-22 Theology of Suffering.docx
Lesson 22
A Theology of Suffering
We have been looking at God’s Standards for Life in our lives as believers. That
standard God has for us is clearly explained in His Word. We operate best by sticking as
closely as possible to His operating instructions. Those are His standards for life found in
God’s Word the Bible.
We have already seen two of these standards for life. The first is that we are to
constantly be aware of Christ’s presence in our lives by the evident “fruit” that surrender
to Christ produces. When I am surrendered to Christ’s leadership of my life, His
character starts to grow in my life. Each of the “fruit” of the Spirit is a facet of how Jesus
Christ’s personality is reflected through me. That was our first week:
EXHIBITING THE ______________________ OF JESUS CHRIST =
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT (APRIL 16)
Principle 100: The key to fruitfulness in your life is to fear (have reverence for)
God (Psalm 111:10, 145:19; Proverbs 1:7, 3:8, 9:10, 14:27, 19:23; Ecclesiastes
8:12-13, 12:13-14) and consistently keep His commandments in every aspect of
your life (be a doer of the Word) (based on Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 11:26-
28; Matthew 7:24-27; John 14:21, 23; 15:10-11; James 1:25; 1 John 3:22).
Page 403: In every relationship and in every situation, you are to
exhibit the
character of Jesus Christ
through your obedience to God’s Word (based on
Matthew 5:13-16; John 15:1-10; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Colossians 2:6-7; Titus
2:11-14; 2 Peter 1:2-10).
Then last week we looked at the continuation of God’s Standards for our lives as we
saw how we are to process the events of our lives. We all have many unchangeable parts
of our lives that we are faced with every day, such as: the family we became a part of, our
features and physical attributes that just came with us by birth, plus the leaders and
supervisors that are above and over us in life.
How do we go on when we have so many things about life we have no control over
and can’t change? That was lesson two, as we delved into the very amazing truths about
how great, powerful, knowing, and present is our God. That was a very special insight
into how we are to live:

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TRUSTING CHANGELESS _______________ ABOUT GOD (APRIL 23)
Principle 98: God’s standards are always consistent and are never subject to the
whim of the moment.
His commands are changeless (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter
1:25); they do not fluctuate with the age in which you live (based on Psalm 19:7-
11, 119:89, 160; Proverbs 30:5-6)
because God Himself is changeless (based
on Exodus 3:14-15; Malachi 3:6; John 8:57-58; Hebrews 1:10-12, 13:8).
That brings us to this final week.
First we seek to surrender to Christ and allow Him to live out through us producing
His character in us that we see as the fruit of His Spirit unhindered within us.
Second we seek to trust more and more of our lives each day to our
Changeless God:
Who Sees All of our past, present, and future; and Who is All-Powerfully at work; and Who
Omni-Presently
walks beside us through every part of every day.
Finally, with that amazing God in us and all around us, the last piece we need to see is
WHY. Why doesn’t He just fix everything now? Why doesn’t He just get rid of all the
troubles in our lives? Why doesn’t He just fix all our pains, sorrows, struggles, and fears?
All of those and countless other questions become our focus as we begin this evening a
study of God’s Word for:
UNDERSTANDING THE THEOLOGY OF _______________ (APRIL 30)
Principle 104: Do not be surprised at trials, even if they seem fiery; instead,
rejoice in them because God uses them to develop Christlike maturity in your life
(based on Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:12-13). Be
prepared to be reviled
and to suffer persecution because of your commitment to
Jesus Christ and your faithfulness in being obedient to God’s Word (based on
Matthew 5:10-12, 10:16-28; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-19). If you should
endure suffering for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed of the Lord
(based on Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 3:13-17, esp.
verse 14, 5:6-10).
LIVING FOR JESUS THROUGH HIS ______________ OF SUFFERING
PSALM 119:71
As we open to Psalm 119:71, we as a nation are in the midst of one of the most
challenging times American’s have faced for over a generation. But as bad as it may seem,
think about how hard life was here in the USA in 1917.

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That year, World War I was sapping the finances, wearing down the resolve, and
destroying the young men of this nation. In the midst of all that, there was no government
security for the sick or unemployed.
People only lived on what they could make and scrape out on their farms or in the
cities. Even the churches were struggling. So much so, that one church in Kentucky
couldn’t afford to keep their pastor as a paid staff member any longer.
I wonder what Pastor Thomas Obadiah Chisholm thought of Psalm 119:71, after he
got word that because of his failing health, he would no longer get any financial support
from his church congregation he had served as pastor for many years? We’ll find out a bit
later, because every one of us here this evening have heard his testimony many times.
But now, listen to these strong, confident words from Ezra’s pen, guided by the
Infinite, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Spirit of God:
Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your
statutes
In our darkest hour, deepest pain, hardest times, most hopeless situations—we know
that our God who is faithful is CLOSER at those moments, than any other time.
In 1917 that 51 year-old pastor named Thomas Obadiah Chisholm had to leave the
paid, vocational ministry for health reasons. Life was hard, and jobs were so scarce he
had to support his family selling door-to-door in Kentucky. But he did so humming the
words of a personal resolve he had written.
What was his plan for facing physical and emotional afflictions in a cold and cruel
world with the harsh realities of dashed hopes, failing health, declining finances, and
limited strength? His testimony is in front of you in the hymnbook, number 372 “Living
for Jesus”.
We find in our hymnbooks this lesson. Note his words with me. These are the words of
the hymn
Living for Jesus, written by Thomas Chisholm:
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.
Oh Jesus Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement
didst give Thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy Throne;
my life I give henceforth to live—Oh Christ for Thee alone!

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Like Thomas Chisholm learned, as he trudged out into dark mornings, and through
long wearying days,
God didn’t take away the troubles, He went through them with us.
God was with him all during his long days, short nights, empty cupboards, nonexistent savings. All those troubles were his, but one thing never changed—
God was always
faithfully the same
. Tonight we all need to learn:
HOW GOD WANTS TO _________ AFFLICTION IN OUR LIVES TODAY
God wants us not to flee our troubles, but to find Him right in the midst of every storm
that blows through our lives. And just as these words says so clearly, He wants us to learn
to lean upon His Arm of grace and mercy extended from His Throne to live each day for
Jesus a life that truly reflects the God we serve—in all that we do.
God inspired His Word to include in Psalm 119, two very descriptive words for the
struggles of life.
The first Hebrew word is
onee (Strong’s word number 6040): which seems to portray
according to the Dictionary of Biblical Languages, an emotional state of misery as an
affliction. It is more the emotional pains that continues following physical pain. So
emotional pain is more in focus with this word.
The second Hebrew word is
anah (Strong’s word number 6031): which seems to
portray a scene of actual physical affliction, and of being bowed down of squished
beneath a physical load. So this word would more seem to describe the actual event of
physical pain not just the emotional pain that follows. So physical pain is more in focus
with this word.
As we look at these seven passages, the words (
onee/emotional pain) or (anah/physical
pain) will help to guide us into the slight differences of meaning in these two words.
GODS ______________ PLAN
First, review with me the lesson plan from Psalm 119’s course on: How to please God
through every affliction He allows to come our way
. Do you have them marked yet in your Bible?
We each should take the time to do this.

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I already have them marked because there are so many times that I have to turn to
this very place to explain to saints why so many troubles seem to never go away. In fact,
for many saints, troubles just seem to multiply.
God wants to refine us, transform us, and use us through overflowing troubles:
if we
will just understand, surrender, and co-operate with His plan
.
If not, if we resist and refuse to believe the truths about our changeless God:
we can get
bitter, troubled, distant from God, and cold
.
It comes down to a choice: trust God or not. We are never really very far from storms
in life. Each of these seven verses God’s Word offers a lesson on how AFFLICTION
1 is
used by our Faithful God, because it:
PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD: Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my
affliction, For Your word has given me life.
PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH: Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I
went astray, But now I keep Your word.
CHISELS GOD’S PLAN INTO OUR LIFE: Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that
I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes
TEACHES US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL: Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD,
that Your judgments
are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
KEEPS US FOCUSED ON OUR TEACHER: Psalm 119:92 Unless Your law
had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.
FORCES US TO TEST HIS PROMISES: Psalm 119:107 I am afflicted very
much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.
BRINGS GOD TO OUR DOORSTEP: Psalm 119:153 Consider my affliction
and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.
Secondly we need to remember:
WHAT QUALIFIES AS AN AFFLICTION GOD CAN USE?
Have you ever asked yourself: What qualifies in God’s eyes as an affliction? Do you know
how to find an answer to such questions? Simply trace a topic as it unfolds in the
Scriptures from its first occurrence onward.
1 AFFLICTION: is described in Psalm 119 by two words; the first onee (6040) seems to portray an emotional state of misery as an affliction; the second word anah (6031) seems to
portray a physical affliction of being bowed down of squished beneath a physical load.

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For example, to find where “affliction” occurs in the Scriptures, you can look the word
up in a Bible study tool such as
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and then read each
reference in your Bible, along with any surrounding verses that affect its context.
When I did this with the word “affliction,” I found thirty-seven occurrences in the Old
Testament, and the Scripture usages describe at least seven different forms of troubles
that God says qualify as an affliction that He wants to use in our lives.
In Genesis 16 God says, ill treatment by others qualifies as an affliction.
In Genesis 29 God says a
lack of love qualifies as an affliction.
In Genesis 31 God says,
lost wages and broken promises qualify as an
affliction.
In Genesis 41 God says,
hatred, jealousy, and betrayal qualify as an
affliction.
In Exodus 3 God says,
underpayment and overwork qualifies as an affliction.
In I Samuel 1 God says,
the inability to have children qualifies as an
affliction.
In II Samuel 16 God says,
unkind words, slander, accusations, and
insults
qualify as an affliction.
If you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the
lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced: hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a
bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and
unkind words.
Now look with me at each of these situations God gives us as lessons, and by His
grace, let’s learn a lesson from each.
1. Ill treatment by others __________________ in life qualifies as an affliction
that God wants to use in our lives:
The Angel of the LORD said to [Hagar]: Behold, you are with child, and you
shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the L
ORD has heard
your affliction(Genesis 16:11).
In God
s sight, being ill treated by jealous and vengeful bosses is an affliction.
Hagar
s bossher mistress, Abrams wife Saraiwas jealous when Hagar became
with child by Abram, and Sarai held Hagar in contempt. But God said,
I am the
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God who sees your affliction, Hagar, and it is not right for Sarai to mistreat you
this way, so I will bless you.

If you are mistreated by someone who has authority over you and it is making life
hard at home, at work, or at school, God says,
I want you to learn from Me in
that situation; I know about it and will work good for you through it.
(See
Romans 8:28.)
2. ___________________________ of love from others around us in life
qualifies as an affliction that God wants to use in our lives:
Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said,
The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will
love me
(Genesis 29:32).
God considered Jacobs lack of love for Leah to be her affliction. After Jacob labored
for seven years to earn Laban
s permission to marry Rachel, the pretty and well-favored
daughter, he was tricked by Laban who gave him Leah instead
the older and lessfavored daughter. Jacob never wanted Leah as his wife, so when he had to work another
seven years to marry the one whom he really loved, that carried over into the marriage.
Just as it wasn
t right for Hagar to be mistreated by her mistress, it wasnt right for
Leah to be unloved by her husband. God said,
I see your affliction, Leah. Your husband
should love and cleave to you, and I want you to know I care about your suffering.
Can
you relate to that? Do you have a lack of love in some relationship? Are you experiencing
an undeserved lack of love simply because of not being liked? That
s an affliction, and
God wants to teach you some great things through suffering.
3. Lost _______________________ at work and broken promises from our
employers
qualifies as an affliction that God wants to use in our lives:
Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban:
What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me?
Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your
two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten
times. Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac,
had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God
has
seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night
(Genesis 31:36, 41-42).
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God viewed Jacobs lost wages and Labans broken promises to him as an affliction. A
modern-day example of such a trial is the plight of many American workers who suffer
because of the downsizing of the large companies to which they
d given the best years of
their lives. In an effort to save money, the oldest employees are let go first so the
companies don
t have to pay retirement benefits.
God says to those enduring such a hardship,
I know about your lost wages and the
company
s broken promises, and I intend to work out My perfect plan for your life
through that affliction.
Your job situation is part of the afflictions God promises to use
for your good
no matter how it may look at the time.
4. Hatred, jealousy, and _________________________ by those around us in
life
qualifies as an affliction that God wants to use in our lives:
The name of the second he called Ephraim: For God has caused me to be fruitful
in the
land of my affliction(Genesis 41:52).
The hatred, jealousy, and betrayal Joseph suffered at the hands of his family and
employers, plus the neglect and broken promises of his friends, was seen by God as
affliction(Psalm 105:17-19). Yet, his trials were not removed for a long time; instead,
the Lord worked behind the scenes to make Joseph fruitful in the midst of it all. After
Joseph
s character had been thoroughly proven, so he had unshakable confidence in the
Lord, He took him from rags to riches by making him second in command in all of
Egypt. Then God used him to save His people, Israel!
What is the lesson from Joseph
s life? If you are experiencing any suffering, God says
to you,
I am aware of every situation, but you need to go through the furnace of
affliction to become more fruitful for Me. Do you remember when Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abed-Nego were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to worship King
Nebuchadnezzar
s golden image? (See Daniel 3) The fire was so strong it burned up the
soldiers who threw them in!
But the only thing God allowed to burn on the three Hebrews was the ropes binding
their hands and feet. Then they were set free to walk with God in that fiery furnace! And
He will walk with you through your own afflictions.

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5. Underpayment and overwork _______________________ upon us by our
jobs
qualifies as an affliction that God wants to use in our lives:
The LORD said: I have surely seen the oppression [affliction] of My people
who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I
know their sorrows
(Exodus 3:7).
The word oppressionmeans affliction.The underpayment and overwork of the
Hebrews by unkind and evil masters was an affliction, and happens all the time to
American workers. Many are underpaid and practically kill themselves overworking just
to make ends meet.
But God says,
I see that affliction of yours, but instead of fighting, I want to
strengthen and teach you some valuable lessons as you go through it.

6. The inability to have _______________________ that some go through in
life
also qualifies as an affliction that God wants to use in our lives:
[Hannah] was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish
[affliction] (1 Samuel 1:10).
Anguish is affliction”—a squashingwhich is the depth of emotion Hannah
displayed as she wept. Her inability to have children caused her great suffering, but the
cruelty of her
fellow wifeand the insensitivity to Hannahs pain compounded the
problem.
Are there things you are unable to do and have no control over it? Perhaps you have
limitations or inabilities for which people afflict you and give you pain. God says to you,
I know all about your struggles; I am not blind to them, and through your furnace of
affliction I am going to teach you something valuable you can never learn any other way.

That is always the lesson of affliction.
7. Unkind words, slander, accusations, and ___________________ from
those we go through life with at home and at work,
qualifies as an affliction that
God wants to use in our lives:
It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will
repay me with good for his cursing this day
(2 Samuel 16:12).
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This was a real low point in Davids life. His adversary, Shimei, hurled unkind words,
slander, accusations, and insults at him when David
s son, Absalom, won the heart of the
people and ran his father out of town. On top of that, Shimei, a descendant of King Saul,
screamed venomous words and cursed David, and threw dirt and kicked rocks at him.
But David responded well in spite of his heartache,
Maybe You, oh Lord, will repay
me with good for the cursings I
ve endured today. I want to walk with You through this
fiery furnace of affliction so You can burn away anything from my life keeping me from
serving You more fully.
This is the attitude God wants to see in us as well.
So, if you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the
lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced: hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a
bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and
unkind words.
Which leads us to the next part of this study, what are the actual:
LESSONS IN THE SCHOOL OF AFFLICTION
Because seven is the number of divine completion, it seems God has engineered a
complete set of messages on affliction in these seven verses in Psalm 119. The primary
lesson is affliction is purposed to drive us to God and His Word:
to find comfort (v. 50); to obtain the will of God (v. 67); to follow His divine plan
(v. 71); to learn of God’s faithfulness (v. 75); to find restoration and transformation
(v. 92); to hear His voice walking with us in our affliction (v. 107); and to get
special deliverance (v. 153).
With these verses the Lord as our Ultimate Teacher has traced how He uses afflictions
as a part of His divine plan to build our lives into a masterpiece for His glory!
1.
God uses affliction because it: PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD: Only
God’s Word can really help us in afflictions – cards, visits, gifts, activities all can only offer
temporary relief through distraction or amusement.

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Psalm 119:50: This is my comfort in my affliction [#6040—emotional], for Your
word
[#565—reading the divine Word to obtain the will of God]2 has given me life.
Only God’s Word can really help us in afflictions. Cards, visits, gifts, and activities only
offer temporary relief through distractions or amusement. Suffering through emotional
affliction ought to drive us to read the Word of God to find comfort. Affliction can
deaden us, but the Word gives us life.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods perfect Word more clearly.
2.
God uses affliction because it: PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH: A
consistent life is built by afflictions. God uses afflictions to pull us back and keep us on His
path for our lives. Often we only call when we need something – so He gives us reason to
call.
Psalm 119:67: Before I was afflicted [#6031—physical] I went astray, but now I
keep
Your word [#565—reading the divine Word to obtain the will of God].
A consistent life is built by afflictions. God uses physical afflictions to pull us back and
keep our lives on His path. It
s common to hear someone who has gone through physical
affliction say,
I was going my own way before I had this problem (car accident, illness,
disability), but I am once more following God
s path!
Affliction can stop us from straying away from God, so now I keep. Have you ever
been driving late at night and slowly drifted to the side of the road? Remember when you
hit those rumble strips and the way you jerked the wheel — so that you got back on the
road quickly? Afflictions are the rumble strips God uses to make us jerk our wheel of life
to get us back on the road and to keep us from heading into the ditch!
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods path of holiness more clearly.
3.
God uses affliction because it: CHISELS GOD’S PLAN INTO OUR LIFE:
There are truths and lessons we only can learn in the furnace of trouble. And remember
in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3, only the things that kept them from walking properly
2 As discussed in past lessons, there are ten synonyms for the Bible in Psalm 119; verses 50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 107, and 153
contain four of these synonyms. Their number designations are from
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; their
descriptions are from the “Psalm 119’s Ten Synonyms for the Bible” list from past lessons.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 12
were burned away! So affliction scrapes away what is not part of God’s plans for our lives
– people, possessions, positions, and securities…
Psalm 119:71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted [#6031—physical], that I
may learn Your statutes
[#2706—using the divine plans, or specifications, to build the
ultimate life]
.
The Hebrew word behind the English word statutesmeans Gods divine plans.
God has plans, similar to a schematic or blueprint. They are like engineering drawings for
how He designed life to be lived.
Verse 71 says to understand or learn those plans, it
s good that we be afflicted, because
there are truths and lessons we can only learn in God
s School of Affliction. Affliction
scrapes away what is not part of His plan for our lives
people, possessions, positions, and
so forth. Physical problems teach us to follow the Lord
s plan.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods plan for our lives more clearly.
4.
God uses affliction because it: TEACHES US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL:
God’s unchanging faithfulness is learned best in affliction. Afflictions remind us that
everything the Lord does is good, right, and the best thing there could be for us.
Psalm 119:75: I know, O LORD, that Your judgments [#4941—building life upon the
divine decisions—judgments that are always true and vindicate]
are right, and that in
faithfulness You have
afflicted [#6031—physical] me.
Afflictions are very personal me. Gods unchanging faithfulness is learned best in affliction;
everything He does is good, right, and the most loving choice possible for His children.
Isn
t it a great blessing to realize He knows us, and is monitoring our entire lives.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods pruning of our lives more clearly.
5.
God uses affliction because it: KEEPS US FOCUSED ON OUR
TEACHER: The onset of troubles marks the beginning of a personal tutorial with our
Divine Teacher. Affliction is an opportunity to “delight” in Him or for us to “perish” in
our troubles.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 13
Psalm 119:92: Unless Your law [#8451—receiving the divine instructions from
the Ultimate Teacher who gives perfect instructions that restore and transform]
had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction [#6040—emotional].
Affliction perishesus or squishes our lives under its weight. The onset of troubles marks the
beginning of our Divine Teacher
s personal tutorial. Afflictions are opportunities to either
delight in Him or perish in our troubles. Many people go through life without knowing the
reviving power of God
s Word. As a result, they become buried in an emotional
avalanche when tribulation comes
and some even give up. So Ezra was saying in verse
92:
Unless You instruct me as my Divine Teacher, I will perish by becoming smothered
or buried in my emotional affliction!

When Americans have emotional afflictions, many seek escape through medication,
alcohol, or a variety of amusements. Do you know the meaning of
amusement? The
alpha primitive
ameans not; musemeans to think.In other words, they look for
distractions to divert thinking so their minds can go into neutral.
But God says,
What you need is My Law; you need to get My Divine Instructions in
you to restore and transform you so you don
t perish when you feel buried emotionally.
The Lord will bring us back with His Word (Psalm 119:25-32), restore our soul (Psalm
23:3), and make us whole again (Psalm 19:7-14).
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods source of hope more clearly.
6.
God uses affliction because it: FORCES US TO TEST HIS PROMISES:
Affliction usually increases, as we get older. But God’s Word will always renew, refresh,
and revive.
Psalm 119:107: I am afflicted [#6031—physical] very much [all kinds of physical
afflictions];
revive me, O LORD, according to Your word [#1697—hearing the Divine
Voice walking us all the way through life].
Often we know so much more than we experience. Affliction is a reality check.
Afflictions seem to grow through life to be more and more. After disasters people often
listen better.

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The word for very muchis the same Hebrew word used of the waters of the Flood
covering the earth (Genesis 7,18-19) and of the plagues covering Egypt (Exodus 9.3 on
cattle; Exodus 9.18 the hail; Exodus 10.14 the locusts).
The word for
reviveis actually save my life and is the same Hebrew word as used for
the rescue of Rahab from Jericho as the walls crumbled and everyone else was destroyed
and she and her family alone were rescued (Joshua 2.13; 6.17, 25). Afflictions allow us to
experientially test God
s promises.
As we age, it
s common to think life will get easier because we wont have to face as
many struggles just to survive. But that
s not really true. Going through afflictions is a
lifelong process. As we get older, the nature of the afflictions simply changes. But one
thing will never change: God’s Word will always renew, refresh, and revive.
Having witnessed many of God
s children at the final stages of their life, Ive found
what has comforted them most is the reading of God
s Word because they hear the
Divine Voice walking with them in their afflictions.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods offer of personal revival more clearly.
7.
God uses affliction because it: BRINGS GOD TO OUR DOORSTEP:
When Ezra said deliver me – he was asking the Lord to come to him with what he
needed. Isn’t that what a deliveryman does? He brings exactly what we need? And that is
the final blessing of affliction. Affliction comes with a promise from God for a special
delivery. He comes right to us – with everything we need.
Psalm 119:153: Consider my affliction [#6040—emotional] and deliver me, for I do
not forget
Your law [#8451—receiving the divine instructions from the Ultimate
Teacher who gives perfect instructions that restore and transform].
Afflictions will continue for our entire lifetime, consideras You watch me. Affliction comes with
a promise from God for a special deliverance once we
ve learned the lessons Hes
designed for us. In the meantime, through His Word He draws near to us and provides
everything we need to bear up under the trials.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see Gods ability to rescue us more clearly.
Finally, so that we aren
t merely hearers of God’s Word, let me ask you, Are you:
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 15
LEARNING PERSONAL LESSONS IN THE SCHOOL OF AFFLICTIONS
What do you sense is the most important lesson that our Faithful God, the Ultimate
Teacher, wants you to personally learn from these seven beautiful portraits of affliction?
1.
If you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and
reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced
:
hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and
verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.
How did they survive such afflictions? They turned to God and His Word and found
comfort, strength, and deliverance in His perfect timing.
So instead of opting to escape afflictions through distractions, or getting even with
those who are mistreating you, pray: “Oh Lord, my Divine Teacher, what do You want
me to learn in this situation? Is there anything keeping me from walking more closely with
You? If so, reveal what it is and then remove it. As I go through this furnace of affliction,
teach me to find comfort through Your Word and to follow Your will for my life.

2. Next, to deepen these truths, remember Jeremiahs hard life, and the
conclusion he came to that gave him fresh, daily hope and a new start in
every low point of life?
It is in Lamentation 3:22-24.
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions
fail not.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “ The
LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!”
In our darkest hour, deepest pain, hardest times, most hopeless situationsSomeone
is CLOSER at those moments than any other time. Remember how in 1917 a 51 yearold pastor had to leave the ministry for health reasons? His life was hard, jobs were so
scarce he supported his family selling door-to-door in Kentucky; but he did so humming
these words as his plan for facing physical and emotional afflictions (#372 Living for
Jesus). Let
s use those words from our hymnbooks to see this lesson. Take turns reading
aloud around your table the words of two of Chisholm
s most well-known hymns:
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do; Yielding
allegiance glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.
Oh Jesus Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement
didst give Thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy Throne;
my life I give henceforth to live—Oh Christ for Thee alone!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 16
And what was the result just 6 years later? Thomas Chisholm wrote out his findings in
the way of a song: #43 Great is Thy Faithfulness.
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning
with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their
courses above, Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness,
mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and
to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine,
with ten thousand beside!
Chorus: “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“ Morning by
morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— “Great
is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
Why not use Chisholm’s words as a tool given by God to minister to your heart each
time emotional and physical adversities come your way?
APPENDIX:
A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON SUFFERING AS BELIEVERS
First, God’s Word tells us that enduring lifelong struggles is inevitable for us as
believers
3:
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and
our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you
concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you
yourselves know
that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you
before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it
happened, and you know. NKJV
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and
all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer
persecution. NKJV
Second, we are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ4:
3 See also Mat. 5:11-12; Mark 10:29-30; I Peter 4:12.
4 See also Phil. 1.29; 3:10-11.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 17
1 Peter 2:20-23 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you
take it patiently?
But when you do good and suffer, if you take it
patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were
called
, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should
follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did
not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; NKJV
1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is
to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13
but rejoice to the
extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings
, that when His glory is
revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.14 If you are reproached for
the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon
you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.15 But let
none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other
people’s matters.16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed,
but let him glorify God in this matter. NKJV
Third, God’s Word promises wonderful treasures for those who endure all forms of
afflictions for Christ’s sake:
All of life’s pains, struggles, and hardships are so small compared to what they can produce in
eternal terms:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart.
Even though our
outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being
renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a
moment
, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory
, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen. For the
things which are seen are temporary, but the
things which are not seen are eternal.
Death brings the ultimate blessing of actually being with Jesus: Philippians 1:21, 23 For to
me, to live is Christ, and
to die is gain. 23 For I am hard pressed between the
two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. NKJV
God will finally bring justice to all unjustly harmed when Jesus returns: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-
7 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be
counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since
it is a
righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble
you
, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is
revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, NKJV
Struggles and afflictions mature us spiritually. James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy
when you
fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Page 18
produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be
perfect and complete, lacking nothing. NKJV
Affliction brings us Heavenly rewards. James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures
temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. NKJV
Fourth, God always is using our suffering, trails, and afflictions for His purposes:
Persecution often helps us spread the gospel to other places. Acts 8:1, 4 Now Saul was
consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church
which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of
Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 4 Therefore those who were scattered
went everywhere preaching the word. NKJV
Persecution and other afflictions help to reveal Christ in us. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 But we
have this
treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be
of God and not of us. 8 We are
hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we
are
perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck
down
, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the
Lord Jesus, that the
life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.11
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus
also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. NKJV
Persecution and trials help to encourage others to be bold in their testimony. Philippians 1:12-
14 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have
actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become
evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains,
are much more bold to speak the word without fear. NKJV
The sufferings of Christ’s saints always glorifies Him. I Peter 1:7 These [all kinds of
trials] have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes
even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise,
glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

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