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The Christian In Affliction

Family Devotions:
M. God Sees Our Afflictions.........................................................................Exodus 3:1-8
T. Divine Help in Afflictions..........................................................................Isaiah 63:7-9
W. Prayer in Afflictions ................................................................................Jonah 2:1-10
T. Afflictions and Repentance........................................................................II Chronicles 7:12-16
F. Comfort in Afflictions ...............................................................................II Corinthians 12:7-10
S. Afflictions Test Us ....................................................................................Job 23:8-10
S. Rejoicing in Afflictions .............................................................................Acts 5:38-42

Devotional Reading: I Peter 4:12-16

Memory Selection: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all". Psalm 34:19.

Lesson Scripture: Job 23:10-11, 30:15-22, Psalm 34:19 and II Corinthians 4:17


Afflictions come to us through a wide variety of experiences and they are difficult for most of us to bear. Afflictions may come in the form of pain, sickness, sorrow, disappointment or some tragic event. They may touch us directly or through someone we love; but in either case God is always able to meet our needs.

Not only are afflictions difficult for us to experience but they may also be hard for us to understand. When afflictions come, people sometimes think God does not love them any more; but it simply is not true. Others may assume they have done something terribly wrong and God is punishing them for their sins; but that is not usually the case.

The teachings of the Bible help us realize that afflictions are common to all. Clearly, some people have more difficulties than others, but all of us will experience afflictions in some measure. Job said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). All of us have mothers and so we are “born of a woman” and can safely conclude that troubles and afflictions will beset us and are a part of our earthly existence.

In the New Testament Paul wrote, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). The word temptation means trial. Trials are “common to man” but remember that God will “also make a way of escape,” thus enabling us to bear them.

The subject of afflictions is so vast and diverse that it is impossible for us to make a complete and comprehensive study of all related scriptures found in the Bible. We shall approach this lesson by making a few basic divisions and focusing our studies upon them. We pray that, you will be encouraged as we take a deeper look at this subject.

A “What To Do List” in Afflictions

1. In thinking about past afflictions, what or who helped you most during those times?

2. List some scriptures which gave you comfort and guided you through past difficulties.

The first item on our list probably should be prayer; after all, it is important for every aspect of the Christian’s life. Many people make the mistake of praying only during times of great need; but we should pray daily and often, whether life is pleasant or difficult. Even when we are afflicted, there are many blessings for which to be thankful. Paul encouraged us to make thanksgiving a part of every prayer. He said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Notice that he admonished us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything; giving thanks to God Who is the source of every blessing (James 1:17). During our afflictions we can thank God that things are no worse than they are.

When our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, He “...spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). When times of difficulty come, it is so easy for some to “faint” or give up. Apparently, the more we pray, the greater our strength. God designed prayer to bless us in good times and strengthen us in difficult times. It is so very important that we pray during times of affliction.

The second item we need to put on our list is resignation. Obviously, some afflictions are temporary and eventually pass. A virus may make you extremely sick for a few days but usually it will leave your system and you will feel better again; however, not all afflictions will leave us that quickly. There are some afflictions that remain for the duration of life. Some people have incurable diseases or situations within their families that are not likely ever to change. When such afflictions come, we can either fret and worry, be angry with God or pray for the grace of resignation. Job had apparently become resigned to his afflictions for he wrote, “...the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). He had lost so very much he could have been bitter, and some might suggest he had a right to such feelings; but instead, he was resigned to all God allowed to touch him.

In the New Testament Jesus taught us to be resigned to the will of our heavenly Father. In the Sermon on the Mount He said to pray after this manner; “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Later, facing the cross, He manifested the spirit of resignation as He prayed to His Father. He said, “...O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Clearly, He was resigned to sufferings and death, setting an example for all of us who profess His name and endeavor to follow. Do you pray for resignation when you suffer afflictions? We even have the privilege of asking God to “deliver us from evil”; but if it becomes evident that we must bear the affliction let us do so with resignation to His will and purposes.

The third item for our list should be joy or rejoicing. Some might ask, “Can we really rejoice in afflictions?” The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” The apostles of our Lord were physically beaten and yet they rejoiced. Acts 5:41 says, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41). No wonder Peter wrote, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Peter 4:16). When Christians do wrong and suffer for it, it is a shame before God and men; however, when we do well and suffer affliction in such a way that Christ is glorified, we can rejoice. May we make a conscious effort to suffer as Christians, honouring and praising Christ Who suffered and died for us.

God with Us in Afflictions

3. Has it helped to have friends and family with you during afflictions? If so, list some ways we can be of help to others in their afflictions.

4. Have you felt God’s Presence with you during times of affliction? Can you explain how He helped you through them?

There is another important reason to rejoice in our afflictions and it lies in this fact: God is with us! Most of us will readily acknowledge the importance of having loved ones with us during times of affliction. Their presence, prayers, love, and compassion help; however, there is a limit to what they can do for us. On the other hand, God is sovereign and has no limitations. He can do all things; for He created heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1) by His great power (Matthew 28:18). His abiding Presence can become the source of great comfort amidst all of life’s difficulties. Let us cast all our cares upon God for He careth for us (I Peter 5:7).

Not only does He provide daily care; but He also loves us so much that He sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins and indeed the sins of all God’s elect (I John 4:10). Regardless of our afflictions, God’s love does not change; circumstances cannot alter His love. When we trust God, we not only trust His love but also His words and He promised, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2). In the New Testament God said “...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Corinthians 12:9). Because of God’s grace Paul “gladly” endured his afflictions, strengthened by the felt power of Christ. Whether God delivers us from our afflictions, or delivers us in our afflictions as He did Paul, may we find peace and comfort in the knowledge that He is with us. Thank God, He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Afflictions Can Be Beneficial

5. Can you explain how God can love us and then allow afflictions to touch our lives?

6. Explain how afflictions can be good for us?

Since God loves us enough to save us by the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, we should suspect that He has a beneficial purpose to our afflictions. Jesus was afflicted, suffered unimaginable pain and died for our sins; yet thereby He accomplished our salvation. God can take our afflictions and bring about good. Although we may not see all the specific benefits wrought or understand how good can come of them, it often does. If we could understand the benefits of all that touches us, there would be no need of faith. It is in not knowing and yet trusting Him, that we are encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Job did not understand the full purpose of his afflictions, but he did realize they made him a better man. He said, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). As gold is melted by the fire, impurities can then be removed; even so, afflictions can help us become better, purer and more spiritual people. Here is how it works: in afflictions men often recognize their great need of God; then repenting, they draw closer and closer to Him through fervent prayers.

There are other times when we just seem to lose our sense of direction and drift aimlessly off course. It apparently happened to David for he said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). In such cases, (though not all suffering is designed for that purpose), it is far better to have been turned by the winds of affliction onto a course which involves a closer walk with God than to have continued on a destructive course . When afflictions touch some people, they cause them to re-evaluate life and rediscover those things which are most important. Afflictions can, and often do, change our perspective; therefore, thank God for the afflictions that turned us around.

Even though God is with us in our afflictions (and often uses them for good), we must recognize that some afflictions are the workings of Satan. Remember that God allowed him to afflict Job and take from him blessings God had previously given. Job did not understand, nor can we; but like Job we can and should trust God. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15). When Satan attacks us, let us remind ourselves that the latter end of Job was better than his beginning (Job 42:12-13). Thank God for these memorable words: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


1. Our chief desire should be to glorify God our Father and Jesus our blessed Saviour (I Corinthians 6:20). In every way possible, let this be our holy aim even when suffering afflictions. Remember what Peter said: we can glorify God by suffering as a Christian.

2. Recognize that when we suffer afflictions and continue to trust God, we prove Satan wrong. He insinuated that Job served God for personal gain (Job 1:9-11). Afflictions afford us the opportunity to show that our motive for serving God is to give Him praise and worship.

3. As God’s Word comforts us in our afflictions, let us use the same truths to comfort others (II Corinthians 1:4). What a blessed privilege is ours, that by our testimony we may help others find comfort in their afflictions.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014