Praying In Affliction
Praying in Affliction
The Bible’s most well-known and beloved declaration of God’s faithfulness might be Lamentations 3:22–23:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
We love this text, and the songs it inspires, because we find God’s faithfulness to be one of his most comforting attributes. But one fact we might overlook when we quote or sing these verses is that this great declaration of God’s great faithfulness was made in the context of severe affliction.
The book of Lamentations is one long, tearful lament over profound suffering. At the time, the Jewish people were suffering at the hands of the ferocious Babylonian army. The author of Lamentations recognized that this affliction came directly from the hand of the Lord, who in afflicting his people was being faithful to his word (Lamentations 2:17). The biblical answer to the question of is there God-Given Affliction is a resounding yes. And for the sake of our encouragement, let’s examine how to move forward from here.
God of All Comfort
The stories of suffering in scripture illustrate three ways God mercifully manifested his faithfulness to his beloved children through ordaining their afflictions. He delivered them from 1) a proneness to wander from him, 2)a faithless fear, and 3) the deadly danger of sinful pride.
And these are only three of God’s redemptive purposes in our suffering. Scripture reveals more, if we have ears to hear. But these examples demonstrate God’s counterintuitive ways of being faithful to the “unchangeable character of his [ultimate] purpose” (Hebrews 6:17):
I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good . . . with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:40–41)A
Can we derive hope, not merely from God’s promise to faithfully deliver us from our afflictions, but from what God will faithfully accomplish for us through our afflictions? The biblical answer is a resounding yes. Because when it comes to his children, God’s purposes in our afflictions are always redemptive, since “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The more we see God’s faithfulness in our afflictions, the more meaningful we will find Paul’s exclamation, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). And the more meaningful we will find the passage that inspired the great hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” because we will realize that included in the “all” of “the God of all comfort” is the comfort that God, in his steadfast love, has in faithfulness afflicted us.
How Do I Receive This Comfort and Hope?
Quite Simple, pray for it. The God who “surpasses all understanding” and gives to us “more than we could ask or imagine” is the one we speak with, and he is able. When you come into a season or a difficulty that surpasses your understanding …. Pray. When you don't even know what would help in the current thing you would face…… Pray. Don’t let yourself wait until you are in that difficulty to Pray, get in the habit of praying everyday and for every situation. “Be still and know” He is God.
Grace and Peace,
Dustin B. Cooper