Read Psalm 107
Focus on verse 41
Nobody like affliction, but everybody needs it at some point. Very few people outside of those who have some sort of personality disorder look for opportunities to experience the pain of affliction. Most of us do quite the opposite. We look for ways to avoid pain and suffering. Some of us even go out of our way to help those who are suffering in order to reduce the amount of suffering in the world around us. I personally consider myself allergic to pain in general since I consistently find it extremely uncomfortable, yet as much as I try, I have also found that I cannot always avoid it entirely.
Interestingly, there also seems to be a strange correlation between the times when I have be afflicted by some sort of circumstance that causes me to suffer, and the degree to which I have grown in social and spiritual maturity. In other words, it seems that I have grown stronger in character and as a person as a result of having experienced affliction. I suppose this would also be a consistent principle in many other areas of life. For instance, plants that experience wind consistently tend to have stronger stalks than those that grow in the shelter of a greenhouse. Muscles in our bodies that regularly get a workout tend to be stronger than muscles that get very little use. This principle seems to be fairly consistent in nearly every sphere of life be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.
While I still would not go so far as to suggest that we purposefully look for opportunities to be afflicted, I would suggest that perhaps we should think twice before we opt to avoid or eliminate every affliction that assails us. There is a modern proverb that states: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” The psalmist wrote it this way, “…he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.” If we consider that any affliction that comes our way is first passing through the hand of God, we may look at them a little differently. When I find myself in the midst of a difficult situation, I find I usually come around at some point to asking the Lord to show me what it is He wants me to learn from the experience, partly because my desire is always to learn and become a better person, but mostly because I would really like the affliction to end.