Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Benefit of Affliction

I struggle with the concept that there are 'benefits in affliction', if the affliction becomes the point of reference for all the miseries of life and the person or persons become incarcerated to a mind-set of doom and martyrdom and can never remove the shackles of despair for any sense of the promise for the future and any blessing that can be procured.

The phrase borrowed from Romans 8:28, "...all things work for good' has become a platitude that exists as a reference to some vague notion that there are 'benefits to affliction' which 'somehow' have as a result a good which brings the Christian or anyone experiencing misfortune to a higher state of spirituality or to a greater depth of love for God, a result of suffering which is deemed to bring about a definite, calculable and necessary outcome.

The problem lies with the fact that God sanctions suffering and raises both the issue of the pain as a problem, that of being an innocent victim of seemingly arbitrary acts of sovereign cruelty; and the hope as a solution which is without immediate recourse, prompt reward or has limitations of access to the salve and ointment which cures and heals: the problem is because God sanctions our suffering; the hope is because God sovereignly sanctions our suffering.

Job 2:10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.'
Eccles. 7:13 Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
Amos 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?
2 Cor. 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

All these verses speak of the sovereign will of God, something that can not be disputed. The sovereignty of God is absolute, infinite, existing regardless, rightfully possessed and secure. It is a surety that God's will will be done.

1 Chron. 29:11, "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,The power and the glory,The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.

Psalm 22:28, "For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.
Psalm 115:3, "But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
Daniel 4:35, "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"

There must exist an expression that acknowledges that God is God! Not a God, but the God, the only God, the supreme, inexpressible, awe-inspiring, omnipotent God.

God's sovereignty allows Him to exercise His authority and power according to His purpose; it allows Him to delegate the use of His power and authority: Deut. 8:18, "...and you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth,..."; it allows him to execute justice; it allows him to show mercy: Romans 9:15,"For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion."; and God's sovereignty expresses His love. If God's love and sovereignty were not inexplicably united, then God would become bound by a law of love which would rule His actions and compel Him to exercise His power and authority in a manner declared by a cause and effect equation totally denying Him His place as the Governor of the Universe. Grace would become a mute point of salvation, faith and hope would cease to be motivational points of reference for the doings of God or the actions of man, and life would be an existence without any concept of love; for it is love which is the true gift: John 3:27, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven." and it would not be free.

Job in his pain and suffering was able to express the depth and wonder of his faith, hope and love with these words in Job 13:15, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The difference between de facto and de jure understandings of God’s sovereignty. In de facto sovereignty, God is directly behind all activity in the universe—no matter how seemingly insignificant or evil—and every event works in accordance with his will. Whereas de facto refers to what actually is the case, de jure refers to what is “by right” or “by law”; God might not be controlling every detail, but all of creation rightfully belongs to its Creator and awaits the day it will be redeemed back to him. To assert God’s sovereignty, then, is to have faith in God’s ability to redeem the most senseless situations.