"Afflictions are painful, but they are also a gift from God." Such was a comment made recently in a church sermon in my church. Really? How does that work? Doesn't it seem as if we go from one trial of affliction to another in our lives? I remember even childhood hurts, periods of unemployment, loss of parents, cancer in my own body, watching my first husband decline over a period of four and a half years and then die. I am presently lamenting my sister's cancer diagnosis, and a close family member's spiral down in his life. I am further lamenting the upheavals the corona virus has caused in our world and has caused in the normality of our lives So how are afflictions a gift from God?
II Corinthians chapter one in the New Testament tells us that a child of God receives comfort from the Lord when going through difficult times. In fact, afflictions, trials, suffering, fuels God's comfort. Therefore, we need to run to the Lord and not outside resources for our comfort in difficult times. If we do this, we will begin to see our difficult times as gifts from God, because we are receiving God's comfort in the process. His comfort then produces joy in our lives in spite of the difficult circumstances. This is a wonderful testimony to the world around us. When we suffer difficult times this in turn enables us to better comfort and help others in their trials. So yes, trials and afflictions are meant to be a gift from God.
This is not to say, that trials and afflictions are good in themselves. I hurt deeply in my past trials. I hurt deeply also in my current trials. The Psalms are also full of the writers lamenting one difficult situation after another. God cares about our sorrows. Yet, it is good to know that He even uses our afflictions for good purposes in our lives and in the lives of others. He also draws us closer to Him in a wonderful relationship through these things, and He makes us depend on Him and not on other useless resources in the process. God is good.
(My sister, Nancy, who was just diagnosed with a serious cancer gives testimony of this along with her husband. Nancy says this, "'When our world is shaken, when our hope is broken, still you are God of all!' Even when we go through very tough times and trials such as a pandemic, and a cancer diagnosis, we still have an amazing God who is in control! All the glory and honor belongs to our Lord and Savior!"