Can affliction be good for us? Psalm 119:71 says it is, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes.” The Hebrew word here for afflicted implies being depressed, abased, dealt hardly with, or weakened. So what the Psalmist is saying is that it is good that he had been depressed, abased, dealt hardly with, weakened, so that he could learn God’s statutes. What exactly are statutes? They are God’s laws or ordinances. In effect the psalmist is saying that it was good for him to go through those trials and troubles because in the process, God was teaching him to walk in His ways. Many times our afflictions are God’s way of teaching us to do just that.
At other times, God wants to make us more fruitful through our suffering. Did you know that if a fruit tree is not bearing fruit, one way to get it to produce more is by wounding it? One article I read actually recommended whacking the tree about 8 times with a sturdy baseball bat. Apparently this sends the tree into survival mode, and it produces more fruit to persevere. God chose to make the tree produce more fruit when it is injured, and sometimes He chooses to make us more productive through the same principle.
Would we have been blessed with the music of Fanny Crosby if she had not been blinded in infancy? Through her own affliction, she produced dozens of hymns we still love today like “Blessed Assurance,” “To God Be the Glory,”, “He Hideth My Soul,” and “Saved By the Blood.” And one of my personal favorites was the direct result of her sweet infant daughter’s death, “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.”
We also see that sometimes God uses sickness to purify us. I Peter 5:10 tells us, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Have you ever had to study a subject and just mindlessly read through the material without committing it to heart? Or perhaps even had a time when you just went through the motions with your devotions and just got through the portion of Scripture for that day without really learning from it? There is no benefit to just “getting through it.” The same applies when we are going through a tough time. If we just “get through it,” and do not learn anything from it, there is no benefit. But God is teaching each person their own personalized lesson. What He might be teaching me may be different from what He might be teaching you. We need to stop and ask God what He is teaching us through our afflictions and try to learn more about God through them. Don’t just get through your trial. There is something very important God wants you to know.
In Psalms 34:18-19, it says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous…” He is near! But Christian, we also have to realize that we will have many afflictions. This isn’t Heaven we are living in. If everything on earth were joy and happiness, we would never want to leave! As it is, many of us long for the day when we can have that everlasting joy and happiness, which we are promised.