Thursday, May 29, 2008

Patient in Affliction

Romans 12:12,
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."


In one of my previous post I wrote about what I have learned about this first part of the verse, "joyful in hope". God has also spoke to me concerning the second half of this verse, "patient in affliction". I understand what it means, but when I first read this verse to be "patient in affliction" seemed like such a far off place for me to be. I understood that as a believer, in my life I am guaranteed to be faced with affliction. How I respond to affliction shows the depth of my love for God. This was really disheartening to me to realize this because my response to affliction, trials, difficult days was not a response that pleases the Lord.
As I thought about how we should respond to affliction my thoughts turned toward 2 men in the Old Testament. First Job came into my thoughts. He is known for his patience during unbelievable circumstances.
He lost his children, his livestock, his health and yet he never cursed God. Scripture tells us that Job was "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil." He was not a bad person, he loved God and lived his life to God's glory. So when his life fell apart if anyone had a reason to say, "I don't deserve this, this is not fair! It was Job. But, he didn't do that. He knew that his God loved him deeply and even if he never gained back all that he lost he would always love his God. Do I love that deeply? Can I be as patient as Job? Can I say, "If you take it all away, I will still love you & live for you." ? I really can't honestly answer that. I would like to think that I could, but I don't know. I know that my family has lost things that we once thought were great, but now looking back, we see that they were not so great. So there was really no loss. Job experienced great loss and yet he remained patient in his affliction and God restored all that he had lost and blessed him twice as much.

Next I began to think about Joseph, found in the book of Genesis. He was the 11th son of Jacob. His brothers were very jealous of him as he held the favor of his father. They sold him into slavery where he ended up in Egypt. His father Jacob was a godly man. Though his sons were not as upright as he was, God still used them to build his Israel. But God set Joseph a part from the rest for a very special plan. After Joseph had been sold into slavery he was sent to be a servant in the house of the Captian of the guard. This was a great start for Joseph, until Potiphars wife decided that she wanted him for herself. She was a very deceptive women and had the trust of her husband. She lied to him saying that Joseph tried to take her to bed and Joseph was sent to prison. He stayed there for 2 years. Genesis 39:21 says, "while Joseph was in prison, the Lord showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes or the prison warden." It says over and over that the Lord was with Joseph...in prison.
So, I'm thinking that if I am Joseph, I would just want out of there. I don't want to have a job in prison as a prisoner. I want out of prison. But, Joseph never asked God to get him out of prison. He was there for 2 years. He had a lot of time to think about himself and his God. He was stuck here in this pagan land and his God was all that he had. He could either believe that his God would deliver him, or he could just try to believe in his self. He could be patient in his affliction or he could try to figure out a way out...his way.

The deeper in my walk with Christ I get the more aware I am of the reality that no matter the reason for the affliction, my patience and trust in the midst of it teaches me more about the greatness of my God than anything else. Learning to embrace my suffering rather than trying to run away from it brings me into a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of my God.
I am blessed when I am patient in my afflictions. I experience my God in ways that I would not if I did not choose this reponse. I am loved by the God of Job and the God of Joseph who never left them, but prospered them because of the their trust and love of Yahweh.
Father, Forgive me for my inpatience in my afflictions. Forgive me for wanting relief. Help me to keep my heart searching for your truth and hope. I want to be joyful in hope and patient in my afflictions. Thank you for your patience with me and your deep love that brings me hope every new day you allow me to experience.

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