“Evil always smiles when it thinks it's won.”
--D.C. Adkisson (Redemption)
"That no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this."
--1 Thessalonians 3:3 (NKJV)
It is interesting how God works in our lives. We don't know how He is exactly going to do something, our job is to place ourselves in His hands. There are so many ways He works for our benefit and one of those we hate--affliction. Now, I am not saying that all affliction is sent by God, in fact, most of it is not. Most comes from our stupid mistakes or the devil, but God does use affliction to get us back on track. The Psalmist brings this out:
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes."
--Psalm 119:67-68 (NKJV)
Our purpose is to submit to the Lord, but there are times that we stray. Some versions translate the term "astray" to "wander." Sometimes we wander and when we do there are times we wander into the wrong places, we let the wrong thoughts flit through our minds and stop to let them entertain us. God had to afflict the writer of this Psalm to get his attention
In the past two years most families have experienced an affliction. What did you do when the "virus" came upon you? How did you react? The virus most definitely was not of God, however, it should have wakened us to focus more on Him. Look at the life of Joseph, what the devil meant for evil and to destroy Joseph, God used for good and to deliver Abraham from the famine in Egypt. Don't quickly dismiss all affliction as the devil's handiwork. Look for what God is doing in the midst of it.
In my reading this week I came across a piece by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man well acquainted with affliction:
"I believe that God can and will bring good out of evil, even out of the greatest evil. For that purpose he needs men who make the best use of everything. I believe that God will give us all the strength we need to help us resist in all time of distress. But he never gives it in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on him alone. A faith such as this should allay all our fears for the future. I believe that even our mistakes and shortcomings are turned to good account, and that it is no harder for God to deal with them than with our supposedly good deeds. I believe that God is no timeless fate, but that he waits for and answers sincere prayers and responsible actions."
In thinking about what Bonhoeffer wrote my mind recalled the Holocaust. It was for sure a great evil. But...what good came from it? There was a need for the Jews to migrate together to form their own nation, hence in 1948, the nation of Israel was formed. Good from a great evil.
Do not say that affliction is from God, but look at it closely and how you are responding. Look to see what it is that you can gain from whatever it is that is happening to you. That does not alleviate the pain or the discomfort or the suffering or sorrow that might occur, but God might be doing a wondrous work. Don't discount it.