Good Affliction

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71).

This seems like a strange testimony. Affliction is often accompanied by complaining or discouragement, but seldom by a statement of satisfaction and thankfulness, such as in our text for today.

Nevertheless, in terms of the long-range goal of character development, afflictions are often good for us, helping to make us more Christ-like, and preparing us for our ministry of service to Him in the age to come (Revelation 22:3), if only we profit from them and submit to them as we should.

"Before I was afflicted I went astray" testifies the psalmist, "but now have I kept thy word. . . . This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me" (Psalm 119:67,50). Such testimonies have been echoed innumerable times throughout the centuries, as godly men and women have drawn closer to the Lord through His comforting Word during times of affliction than they ever were during times of ease.

In fact, afflictions often draw even the unsaved to the Lord. They would never come when things are going well, but many do come when, in times of sorrow or rejection, they are forced to the end of their resources. It is then that "godly sorrow [literally, `sorrow from God'] worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of" (II Corinthians 7:10).

As for those instances when God's people suffered in ancient times, it was said: "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them" (Isaiah 63:9). Although no such affliction "for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). HMM

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