Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 7 July 2018
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

What Good Is Achieved in Affliction?

Vine’s Expository Dictionary lists multiple meanings for the word “affliction.” For this article’s focus, only a few will be used. Note: (1) to suffer ill, adversity, hardship or misery; (2) to be mistreated, tormented or troubled; (3) sufferings due to the pressure of circumstances, or the antagonism of persons; (4) anything which burdens the spirit; (5) tribulation, distress, persecutions, calamities.

God being who He is knew before He created us precisely what we needed to function effectively in our physical bodies. We can all be eternally grateful for our five senses—hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. The sensation of feeling is essential to our health and well-being.

Untold millions have made the adjustment to the loss of seeing, hearing, smelling or tasting. The loss of touch or the sensation of feeling would lead to our demise. Damage beyond repair, and in many cases, death would be certain without the sensation of feeling.

This writer served three years in the military in the 1960’s, and I remember asking one of the other clerks which of her five senses would she not want to be without. We both agreed that we would not want to be without sight. We, then, asked one of our administrative officers the question, and she said the sensation of feeling was the most important because virtually every function of the body was related to being able to feel. My coworker and I were much too young to understand what a profound statement the lieutenant made. It makes perfect sense some 50 years later.

It has been said that we always react to hearing our name. However, the human touch causes a response that can be most powerful. Often, we will turn to see who is touching us. No one knew and understood the power of touch as the Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike us, He knew the difference between a physical touch and the touch of expecting, trusting faith. Matthew, Mark and Luke record these accounts.

Matthew 9:20-22 reads, “And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, ‘If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.’ But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, ‘Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour.”

Mark 5:25-34 adds further details to the account.

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

Isn’t that rich? It does not get any better than that for being healed of any affliction!

Luke 8:43-48 adds still further details to the account.

Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Physical pain has a way of changing our minds about a lot of things. Physical pain stops us in our tracks when nobody and nothing else can. Emotional pain and anguish can drive us to our knees, and in some situations, brings about changes for the better. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart.”

Psalm 119 reveals much about our many physical and mental afflictions. Our attitude and ability to endure reflects our spiritual growth and maturity. Observe the following.

Paul endured affliction that rose to the brink of surpassing human endurance, yet he referred to it as “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Even with his death being imminent, Paul charged Timothy, his son in the faith, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Word. He wrote in 2 Timothy 4:2-5, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine… and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Paul’s charge to Timothy is most certainly God’s expectation of all who desire Heaven as the everlasting home of the soul.

Hebrews 11 has been noted as “Faith’s Hall of Fame.” It addresses many of the saints by name who were faithful to God through afflictions that most of us in the 21st century have not experienced! Verses 35-38 further enumerate what they endured by faith.

Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Isaiah 53 reveals in vivid and intense word pictures the suffering and affliction of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 4 declares, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken. Smitten by God and afflicted.” Verse 7 also declares, “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”

What good is achieved in affliction? “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3-4). In all that God does and in all that He allows in our lives, He does it for our good (Romans 8:28). He is always pursuing our eternal salvation to bring us home.

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