a : to distress so severely as to cause persistent suffering or anguish
A hat tip to my friend Josh for stirring up the salad bowl on this word and spurring my quest in better understanding God’s sovereignty in light thereof. Please forgive me as I make you wander with me through my thought process over this.
When I think of the sentence/statement: “I am afflicted”, in my mind it connotes something that’s happened to me but with no direct author. In the case of my cancer, if there is an author, it would be myself due to my poor health choices of smoking for almost 30 years and being overweight.
However if I were to say, “I’ve been afflicted”, then there is an outside agent taking a direct action against me.
So what does this have to do with the sovereignty of God? The other day I posted a status update on Facebook of a quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
My friend Josh then replied, “It had better, since God sends the affliction too.”
I had to pause and think on that – God sends the affliction?… Really?… Does He?… In my head my mind spat out, “God is not the author of sin!” And from that misguided statement I some how extrapolated that He therefore could neither be the author of affliction. Thankfully I couldn’t leave it alone and after a quick search on Google I came across John Gill’s Commentary on the following:
I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
and [that] thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me;
in faithfulness to himself, his covenant, and promise; that upon forsaking his law, and not walking in his statutes, he would visit sin with a rod, and transgressions with stripes, though he would not take away his loving kindness; and in faithfulness to David, for his spiritual and eternal good, in great sincerity, heartily, cordially, with real affection and love: his rebukes were faithful; the chastisement was not above measure or desert, nor above strength to bear it; see
Wow talk about having jumped to a wrong conclusion earlier but now what am I left to make of all that this?
Is God punishing me for my sins?
To my dear Christian friends, I think that in the midst of the dark night of the soul that last question, the one that I heard raised in my own mind, is exactly the one that Satan whispers to us. That I am a bad person and that God, weary of my transgressions is now punishing me even till death. But is that what Gill was really saying? Look again and read what I underlined: in great sincerity, heartily, cordially, with real affection and love. Where is the anger and wrath in those words? They are no where to be found. Instead the affliction is a chastisement, a correction, a redirecting of ones path and all of it He does for His glory and the love He has for His children.
I thank God for the discerning heart His spirit instilled in men like John Gill. Instead of hearing Satan’s lies and fearing condemnation I instead now hear the earnest and loving call of my Shepherd. My affliction may leave stripes but that is not the rod I now feel. No, instead I feel my Shepherds crook gently leading me on the path home.