Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

affliction Archive

Friday

17

April 2020

Acquainted with grief

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"Bless are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) | Acquainted with Grief, read more at hopereflected.com

Even in grief, God is still good

There is nothing quite like grief. Grief is a lot like love, and we feel grief because we love; it’s not until we experience grief that we start seeing it everywhere. Grief, that homesick longing that will never be fulfilled on this side of heaven; grief, that feeling that we all have in common in some way or another, but that each of us experiences so differently.

“Feelings, feelings, feelings.” C.S. Lewis said in A Grief Observed. “Let me try thinking instead.” That’s just it, as Lewis said, “our feelings come and go, but God’s love for us does not.” Even in our grief, God is still good. When we are in the middle of suffering, when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and when we are caught in the furnace of affliction, God is still good. He is still with us. Though we may not feel it – though we may feel everything but – God is still with us, even in our grief, as we see in Scripture.

In Isaiah 53, which is widely read at Easter, we are reminded of this truth.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Isaiah 53:3

He hath borne our griefs

Man of sorrows! What a name! Christ, our Lord, is acquainted with grief! We are not alone! When we feel that God is hiding His face from us, when we feel that He doesn’t esteem us, let us remember the truth: That is precisely what we did to Him, and it is precisely what He will never do to us. On the contrary, God loves us so much, that He let His only son endure deeper grief that we could ever imagine, because He loves us so much.

Even in grief, God is still good. Even when we feel the weight of the world, He still cares, and He still carries us.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

Isaiah 53:4

“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

Isaiah 46:4

Though grief lingers and leaves us under a cloud of gloom, He will carry us and He will deliver us.

We must have faith

“Blessed are those who mourn,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “for they shall be comforted.” That is a promise! When our hope is in God, He will help us. Though weeping may endure for a night – or a week, or months, or even years, – joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Our grief is not forever. Though our grief may at times feel greater than we can bear, we must remember that even when we are wearied in the greatness of our way, He will deliver us.

Originally published as “Acquainted with grief.” Independent Plus. January 23, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

1

April 2020

The Furnace of Affliction

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10) | Read more on hopereflected.com

In the furnace of affliction, God still has His hand on us

In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar threw three Hebrew believers – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, – into a fiery furnace. Remember their words in response? “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of thine hand.” (Dan. 3:18) Even when they faced the fiery furnace, they stood firm in their faith. The result was that God was with them – literally! Three men were thrown into the furnace, and king Nebuchadnezzar and his counselors saw four: “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:25)

A furnace of a different kind

It’s not the first time we read about a furnace in Scripture. Earlier in Isaiah, we’re introduced to a furnace of a different kind: “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”(Isaiah 48:10) In this passage about God redeeming the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity, we come to understand that even in His refining of us – which more often than not brings us through trials and trying times – God does not deal so rigorously with us that He neglects to show us His mercy. For even in the furnace of affliction, God still has His hand on us. It can be hard to believe when you’re thrown off your feet, but when we cling to our faith, when He is all that we have, we will find that God is with us. In C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain he writes: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciences, but shouts to us in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The furnace of affliction has this way of forcing us to look up

The furnace of affliction has this way of forcing us to look up, searching for comfort and seeking relief. Grief, sorrow, sadness, pain – when we are down and out, the best option is to use these times as opportunities to grow. It sounds trite, and when someone says that to you when you’re down, when someone promises that “it will get better,” or “it will get easier,” your first thought may be to say, “You have no idea what I’m going through!” (even when they do). But it does get better, when you go to God’s Word. “For the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13) There is a bittersweet embrace in reading these words and experiencing their truth.

Matthew Henry wrote of this passage in Isaiah that God’s “bringing men into trouble was to do them good,” and as troubling as we may find this, he is right. Even in the furnace of affliction, when we choose to listen to God and obey His commandments, He gives us peace like a river, and He makes our righteousness as waves of the sea – “Come ye near unto me,” God invites us in Isaiah 48:6. In the furnace of affliction, He is with us, and His Word is the place we find Him.

Originally published as “The furnace of affliction.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest ConfederateWalkerton Herald-Times. January 16, 2020: 6. Print. Web.

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