2006-03-15 - Affliction
Editor's note: I have wonderful news! As most of you know, we had been missing our old friend and writer Tim, and some of you had written notes of concern about him. It gives me great joy to report that he has written me, and in fact will be writing occasional devotionals for us. And we begin tonight! Welcome back, Tim!! I will let Tim himself bring you up-to-date, within this devotional.
2 Corinthians 4:17, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison."
Whenever Martin Luther (the Reformer) met with any great trouble, he would say, "Let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm together, and then let the devil do his worst." Psalm 46 begins with, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," and goes on to show wonderfully that God is a refuge for His people in their time of need.
Maybe I should introduce myself, or for some reintroduce myself. My name is Tim, and for several years I wrote devotionals with Christian Fellowship Devotionals. I have come upon some difficult times health-wise, and been in and out of the hospital for several months over the last few years. I am doing better now, but in the end, the prognosis is not very encouraging. Death stares me in the face, but then again - it always has before, whether I knew it or not. It is just this time it is more evident in my life. I have some medical issues that still exist, but am doing better for now. I, and we all, must remember that God is Lord of creation, it is His, and as believers we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. The balances of our lives are in His hands and as Creator, He can preserve to long life, or take His children home to live with Him in glory at any time.
Another leader of the Reformation, in Scotland, Samuel Rutherford, used to talk of the blessed results that came from his afflictions. He said that he feared making the crosses he was forced to bear an idol because of the blessed results they produced in him. In some respects, I can agree with him. They will not let me work, so I have to stay home all the time and get to study. I get to read several hours a day, study my Greek, and memorize Scripture. I get extended times to pray and study, and they deliver my meals to my door. Could I, like Rutherford, find myself loving affliction too much? I don't think so, but God has been very gracious - and I rest in that grace.
We all must examine this issue in our lives. For some of us, the shadows of our life's day are lengthening. Well, we must remember that they are lengthening for all of us, but for some of us more than others. We may be nearer to our heavenly home than we imagine. We may have anticipations of what our lives will bring, or aspirations of the future, but they may never see fruition. We may be at the gates of eternity and not even know it. The messenger of the King of Kings may be on his way to visit us with our summons. We are only pilgrims here.
There is an old Latin proverb, Dum spiro spero. It means, "while I live, I hope." But as Christians, we really should say, "Dum expiro spero," While I die, I still have hope. That is not the easiest mindset to have, but it is the true mindset of the Christian. We are here for only a short time. Affliction is something we all encounter in various ways. We can despair, or we can look to where there is hope in Christ. I encourage you to take your struggles, fears, hopes, and dreams and lay them at the base of the cross, resting in our true hope Jesus Christ. May the Spirit grant us the grace and strength to do so.
Soli Deo Gloria,