A Note from Stephanie: Hello, dear readers! Last week our website was hacked, so we couldn’t post a devotion. Luckily, the host company which owns our site was kind enough to clean it up at no charge. So now, please enjoy Timothy’s latest devotion, and may God bless you!!
“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”
–Psalm 119-71 (NLT)
I’ve got two questions for you today, and I’d like you to think seriously about them. Are you submitting to or surmounting affliction in your life? And second, what does God ask of us when it comes to affliction?
Before we tackle these questions, however, we need to take a step back. Webster defines affliction as a cause of persistent pain or distress. We usually think of affliction only in a physical sense, but I don’t believe it has to be limited to that arena alone. Affliction can be physical without a doubt, but a person can also be afflicted emotionally or spiritually. Having said the above, no matter what kind of challenge you may be facing, it can’t present an ultimate barrier of hardship unless you surrender to it.
In order to see what I mean, look with me at the story of the man who lay at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). The Bible says he had lain their for 38 years. Talk about surrendering to your condition! He was probably just lying around passively, feeling sorry for himself.
His attitude was further revealed when Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made whole?” This man would have been an outcast of society, depressed and lying in the hot sun. Aside from feeling like he was at the bottom of the barrel, I think it’s pretty safe to say he must have been quite bitter.
So when Jesus asked him that fateful question, the handicapped man probably thought, “Right! How stupid! Of course I want to get well!”
Jesus may have been using this technique to start a conversation, as some people have suggested, but I believe that He also wanted the man to see what he was bound by. Let me illustrate this point with a true story.
While growing up as a person who is blind, my mom always asked me why I had a chip on my shoulder. I was like the man in our story, lying by the proverbial pool of life. Without knowing it, I was surrendering to my limitation–until I met the One who is limitless. My life radically changed then, and God has always been faithful to walk with me through it. But that is where my story really begins.
Just as He did in the Bethesda story, Jesus said, “Tim, do you want to be made whole?” Or, to put His question another way, “Tim, what are you bound by?”
Now insert your own name into that question, and let Jesus speak to you afresh, as this is a life-long question. Do you want to be made whole, my friend?
Now I can hear someone say, “I’ve asked God for healing so many times, and I’m still in pain.”
The good news is that there is more than one way to be made whole. I believe that we often say, “Good news, God–I don’t want another way. I just want to be done with this pain already!” But like the man in this story, instead of surrendering to our circumstances, we need to surrender to the savior.
I told you about my story and how it began, but there is more to my tale. When Jesus asked me the above question, He also told me to take up my bed and walk. Like the man at Bethesda, I was faced with a choice. Would I obey the son of God, or would I continue to lie by the pool?
My friend, God wants you to have the same kind of conviction in the affliction you are going through. Ask Him to change your heart when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ask Him what He is trying to teach you through this experience. In my case, He was saying to me, “Tim, you can climb to new heights in me. I have so much more for you.”
There is no doubt that God can touch and heal you if it is His will, but often He teaches us by using the school of pain. Think of it like this. When you were little, you may remember your parents saying, “Eat your vegetables.” You may not have liked them too much, but as you found out later, they were indeed good for you.
Now, fast-forward to a future scenario. During your annual check-up, the doctor smiles and says, “It’s a good thing you ate your vegetables. You’re doing great!”
Now look at this from a spiritual point of view. I believe that like me, God is telling you that no matter where you are on the road of life, there is something knew for you around the bend. He wants to use the affliction in your life to bring about the conviction that He holds out His hand to you today. Again insert your name here, fore He is telling you, “Get up and walk. Stir up the gift that is lying dormant, by asking Me to fill you with my Spirit. Walk in It, and I will lead you down new and enriching paths, carrying you when the road is difficult.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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