Did the title of today's post catch your eye? Did you do a double take and think " What is this crazy lady talking about now? Who praises through affliction?" Many people would not put two words like "praise" and "affliction" in the same sentence. However, today I would like to challenge you...as I have been challenging myself of late.
Affliction. Oh that terrible word. A word that means "great pain and suffering". It seems as though this has been a year of significant affliction for people all over the world. Countless numbers have been touched by COVID. Consider your own life...have we all not had seasons of suffering? Periods of pain? Our elderly often suffer daily. Millions of folks cope with chronic diseases. Mothers who are expecting sweet babes or have just delivered are often afflicted by various discomforts and conditions. I have personally been feeling quite afflicted this entire year. As I considered this topic the other day, I was shocked to realize that I have actually been in a sickened state, in pain or prolonged discomfort for far more days than not throughout this entire year. It just seems like one thing after another.
Well today I want to encourage those who may be in a season of affliction. How do we not fall into the pit of despair? How can we navigate this season with prayer, praise and perseverance? One of my favorite missionaries of all time is Amy Carmichael. Amy Carmichael worked as a missionary in India, saving children from the horrible temple prostitution industry. She had a profound love of the Lord and was a gifted writer. In the last 20 years of her life, she was primarily bedridden due to a lifelong disorder and a terrible accident. Despite her condition, she continued the work that the Lord had set before her. She continued to write, inspiring millions of Christians around the world. Amy often drew inspiration from the natural world. In her writings, Amy says,
“We shall feel sometimes like this battered pine, thrashed by the wind. We who follow the Crucified are not here to make a pleasant thing of life; we are called to suffering for the sake of a suffering, sinful world. The Lord forgive us our shameful evasions and hesitations. His brow was crowned with thorns; do we seek rosebuds for our crowning?”
Are you feeling battered? In the face of affliction, Amy stated, "I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Always the expectation of God is that his child shall break through and live and endure as seeing the Invisible—My grace is sufficient for thee."
In the face of affliction turn to scripture. Praise God for giving us comfort through His written Word! I have been strengthened by 2 Corinthians 4.....reading about the Light of the Gospel. In Chapter 4, Paul is addressing the Corinthians who were often being physically attacked and killed. The first thing Paul tells us to do in this chapter is to,"...not lose heart". (2 Cor. 4:1) Are we not all reinforced when we have a great responsibility or purpose set before us? While we are all commissioned to share the Gospel, there are individual ministries that God gives each of us as well. My own ministry in motherhood has given me a great purpose...a purpose that has encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite that day's physical discomforts. Paul reminds us that through the power of the living God, we may be afflicted, "but are not crushed." (2 Cor. 4:8)
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
I implore you all to remain in constant prayer. You will find that when you look back on your days indisposed, God has been moving through your situation the entire time. Sometimes we can not clearly see the blessing in the moment, but trust me friend....there is an answered prayer and blessing in every day. Keep turning to God in prayer and He will bring you spiritual relief and mental fortitude. I organize my thoughts better on paper than I do in speech, so I write my prayers and things that I'm grateful for daily. I now enjoy a record of all that God has brought me through.
Praise God for every little thing! We humans can get into such a mood. When you're in a steep valley everything seems covered by shadow, not like the bright sunlight atop a mountain peak. It is hard to see the good when you are uncomfortable. Intentionally seek out what is true, pure and good. Bask in the love of your family and friends, marvel at something delicious, listen to an inspirational message or song, enjoy God's creation outdoors. When I think on such things, my mood improves. Delight in the goodness of the Lord! See the miracles in the every day and you will cultivate within yourself an active state of constant praise. This is is something you will need to condition your mind and spirit to do.
Smile. Did you know that it is scientifically proven that if you smile through pain and discomfort, your tolerance levels increase and it actually hurts less? I had a procedure this week, and literally smiled through all of the pokes, prods and numbing.....and it wasn't as bad! It really worked! Smile and laugh with your loved ones, smile and thank those that are taking care of you. Smile and thank God for the day.
Now here I speak mostly of physical suffering. However, we all know that suffering can occur beyond the physical...spiritually, socially, mentally, etc. Our own Lord and Savior suffered mightily in His life. If we are to live like Christ, it is expected that we will experience suffering. I know no one really likes to hear that, but look at all of the good that came from Jesus' pain and affliction. I want to remind you that perhaps there is a good that will come out of this difficult season....a good that we can't see yet. I leave you with this last thought from Amy and pray that it will give you hope in difficult times.
“If we’re revived by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit, we’re capable of bearing fruit in season and out of season, in fertile ground and in the desert, when life is easy and when it’s not."
~ Amy Carmichael
*All Quotes from "Gold By Moonlight" by Amy Carmichael