Affliction is defined as “The cause of continued pain of body or mind, as sickness, losses, calamity, adversity, persecution” in Webster’s 1828 dictionary. There is a big difference between the effects of short-term trials and long-term afflictions. Psalm 102 will help your faith to flourish during the most difficult times of life.
The Cry of the Afflicted
Psalm 102:1–2, 24
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me In the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: In the day when I call answer me speedily. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: Thy years are throughout all generations.”
Affliction causes us to cry out to the Lord. Where else can you go when your heart is breaking? Who else can heal the wounds of the soul? When you are afflicted, you will either turn to God with urgency or turn away from Him with bitterness. Pour out your soul to God. Tell Him all your hurt, disappointment, worry and fear. He alone can help your circumstance and heal your spirit.
The Condition of the Afflicted
Psalm 102:3–11, 23
“For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned as an hearth. My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; So that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. Mine enemies reproach me all the day; And they that are mad against me are sworn against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: For thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. My days are like a shadow that declineth; And I am withered like grass. He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days.”
Affliction can effect us mentally, emotionally and physically in dramatic ways. It reminds us of our need for God. We need Him all the time and without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Nevertheless, our feeble human nature quickly is so quickly filled with pride losing sight of our desperate need of God. You never draw a breath or take a step without the help of God. Affliction renews the awareness of our frailty. Allow your problems to bind you closer to God. We can only know God’s strength in the midst of our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9–10) You may feel like you are dying or perhaps even wish to die. But look to the God of the resurrection! Turn your eyes upon Jesus! Look full in His wonderful face and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. God
The Confidence of the Afflicted
“But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; And thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: For the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, And favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, And not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: And the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; From heaven did the LORD behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; To loose those that are appointed to death; To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, And his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: And the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, And thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, And their seed shall be established before thee.”
Never allow affliction to erode your confidence in God. Satan desires for affliction to separate you from God. God intends for it to drive you to Him.
Faith defeats affliction. You must keep your eyes on God! Remember His benefits! Recount His blessings! Recognize His goodness! Recall His victories! Relive His work in your life!
Every trial you have conquered and every valley you have traveled are evidence that God is big enough to bring you through this current affliction. You will never have a problem bigger than God. Keep your eyes on Him and you will walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.
You Can Bring Glory to God on Your Darkest Days
Your affliction multiplies your opportunities to glorify God. People are watching you. Whether you like it or not, you are on the stage of life under the spotlight of affliction. Give people reason to praise God for His work in you. Be faithful. Speak often of God’s blessings and goodness. Walk with God. Cultivate a Christ-like spirit. Suffer with grace. Be kind and thankful. Be selfless and generous.
My wife, Sarah, is a daily example of this truth. Every day I marvel at God’s grace in her life. Through unexplainable pain of body as her immune system attacks the body it was meant to protect; through indescribable torment of mind as life passes while she is trapped in a prison of pain and a bed of suffering; Christ’s light shines so brightly through her. I am amazed at God’s mercy and grace. Daily I am convicted by her faith. Many times a day I’m compelled to praise God.
When you have every human reason to doubt God, but instead have the strength to glorify God with your words and actions, the world will marvel. And they should. Because your God is MARVELOUS!