I am going to hit you with a troubling passage. This is a passage that may mess with your thinking and your theology. But before I hit you between the eyes, I should assure you of some key things. First, I believe in healing. I believe that healing is part of the atonement Jesus bought for us. I believe in and have witnessed some amazing works of our Father in delivering people from chronic conditions — and have outright healed them where they stood!
All that being said, I also believe in afflictions. I better explain what I mean. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word” (Psalm 119:67). I think of this as “healing afflictions.” What I am talking about is any affliction, however it is manifested, that keeps me from going astray — that drives me deeper into my Father’s Word — is healing. The Truth is that the most gracious healing force spiritually and physically can be afflictions.
Now before you throw stones at me, let me explain. When I speak of afflictions, we tend only think of physical ailments — sickness, disease, torment — but that is only a fraction of what our afflictions can be. In my study on Job, I explained that all of his life Job had walked with YHWH and had known His blessings but through his afflictions; he learned what he was never able to learn in his prosperity.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better and gains gladness.” The Living Bible renders that passage as, “Sadness has a refining influence on us.” “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret His sending it” (II Corinthians 7:10).
I want you to notice that passage from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians does not say that the Devil sends the sorrow, it says that our Father sends it! I told you I would mess with your theology, didn’t I? I freely admit that it is unfortunate that this “refining influence” cannot be found in our times of peace and prosperity. However, the realities of God‘s Kingdom will only be unveiled to us when the love of everything this world has to offer has been stripped from our grasp.
Purifying fire and times of crisis will cause us to get things out of our lives that we didn’t even realize were in there. To suggest those afflictions, whatever form they take, are of the devil is to suggest that David was driven by the devil to seek God’s Word. For the last two years, I have experiencing inflictions, and I have called on my Father for release. I believe He will bring complete healing, but while I go on believing, I continue to thank Him for His presence and the Grace He is providing and let it serve to remind me how I dependent on him I am. Along with David I cry out, “It is good for me” (Psalm 119:71).
The times of correction — even some afflictions — are not to be despised as coming from the devil. Nor are they sent as punishment. Such burdens have produced great men of faith and insight. Remember to “Cast ALL your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. Your Father’s strong hand is on you, and he will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before Him because He cares for you.
Paul spoke of the “cares,” the “concerns,” of the churches that were thrust on him (see II Corinthians 11:28). Every newborn church was another “care,” another “concern,” on his shoulders. Growth, expansion, lengthening of stakes always involves new concerns. The man used by Yehoveh must have broad shoulders. He doesn’t dare shrink under the challenge of all those concerns, all those responsibilities. Every new step of faith He leads me to take has brought with it new responsibilities and concerns and problems. He knows just how many cares He can trust to us. It is not that he is trying to break us — in health or strength. The Lord may have given you many dreams and visions; places to expand and to grow, but that is only because willing laborers are few, and the harvest is so great. Cares and responsibilities are removed from those who refuse them and given as gifts to those who are not afraid of them. Forget the load of cares you carry — learn to cast them all on him!
Every new blessing is related to a family of cares. They cannot be divorced. You cannot learn to live with the blessing until you learn to live with the cares. What was it Jesus said? “To whom much is given much is expected.” Just remember that the next time you want to whine and moan about what you are facing . . . Hmm. give that some thought.