This blogpost was originally going to focus on physical affliction, a subject I’m familiar with. For almost thirty years I have been laid aside off and on with ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and other health issues. CFS is the illness that has caused Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken, to be housebound for years and she tells her remarkable story to Elle Magazine.“When the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified….Singing in the fire! Yes! God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”1 - Susannah Spurgeon'
The moment we are saved God begins His sanctifying work in us. All of our sins, past, present and future, have been forgiven because of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and now the Lord begins to “disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness.” (Heb.12:10). This is not the kind of discipline that has to do with punishment because Christ has already taken that for us. Rather this is the kind of discipline that an athlete or soldier would undergo to train for a competition or battle.
THE PRUNING PROCESS
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“What, then, does affliction do?" you ask. Well, if I may say so, affliction is the handle of the knife—affliction is the grindstone that sharpens up the Word of God. Affliction is the dresser which removes our soft garments and lays bare the diseased flesh so that the surgeon's lancet may get at it. Affliction makes us ready to feel the Word, but the true pruner is the Word in the hand of the Great Husbandman.” 2 – Charles SpurgeonTHE PEACEFUL FRUIT
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:10-11
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
- We will be drawn closer to God: Psalm 88:9
- We will learn to depend upon Him: 2 Corinthians 1:9
- We will be humbled: 2 Corinthians 12:7
- We will learn obedience: Psalm 119:67
- We will share His holiness: Hebrews 12: 10-11
- We will learn that God’s grace is sufficient: 2 Corinthians 12:9
- We will share in the fellowship of suffering with others: 2 Corinthians 1:4
- We will learn perseverance: Romans 5:3
- And in the end...
"This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
1. Singing in the Fire by Faith Cook: Banner of Truth Trust; 1995; pg. 34