God is testing our attitude when we’re afflicted. We are in charge of how we react and of our attitude.
Psalm 119:75 I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
When we’re afflicted, it takes effort to keep a good attitude. God chose to refine us in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10). We can know God’s way is right as we go through afflictions. God wants us to lean on his word in every affliction, trial or tribulation. Do trials humble us or do we get stiffnecked, stubborn, and disobedient like the Israelites in the wilderness?
Deuteronomy 8:2-3…God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
God is looking to see if we’ll be proud and stiffnecked when things don’t go the way we want them to. Are we humble, willing, and flexible if God says us to change our plans? The Spirit changed Paul’s plans to send him to help the Macedonians.
Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia…and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia…they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not…And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after…the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go…assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
When we repent, God wants us to forsake sin, our way, and thoughts. We have to trust the word of God above our feelings, our thinking, and ideas. Abraham obeyed and didn’t hold back when God said to offer Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:2-13). Paul had a thorn of affliction in his flesh. He asked God three times to take it away, but God said his grace was sufficient. Paul saw he was weak, but Christ’s power and grace made him strong. God wants us to rely on his word, not our feelings.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me…For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart…he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
The same things happen to the good and the evil (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3). We have to learn to have a good attitude. As someone once said, Take what you get and don’t throw a fit. When we lean on God and his word, it takes us through hard trials. God promises sufficient grace for every trial. We need to have an attitude change like Paul if we’re going to take pleasure in infirmities, persecutions, and distresses. We can thank God for victory, for grace and help he gives. We have to keep our thankfulness to continue with victory. The psalmist found comfort in the word of God.
Psalm 119:49-50 Remember the word…upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction…
The statutes were the songs of the psalmist.
Psalm 119:54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
When we’re trusting God, we have to be flexible in his hand. Our trials are not about us but about glorifying God. In prison and awful conditions, Paul said to rejoice always. Are we rejoicing in our trials no matter what we face?
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Paul had to learn, as we do, to be content in every situation. He knew he could do all things through strength from Christ.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Can’t never did anything so we must not let “I can’t” be our attitude in hard trials. God is the God of all comfort in all our tribulations. Through the comfort he gives us, we can share it to encourage others. When we’re afflicted it is for others consolation and salvation. How do people see you going through your hard trials? Are you glorifying God?
II Corinthians 1:3-6 Blessed be God…the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted…For as the sufferings of Christ abound…consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings…whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
Paul was pressed above strength and despaired of life, but trusted God – not himself. Go to God’s word to be encouraged so God gets glory in your hard trials. He wants to see if we trust him 100%, even if things look impossible. Job trusted God when he couldn’t seem to find him (Job 13:15), but he knew God would bring him forth like gold (Job 23:8-10).
II Corinthians 1:7-10 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
If our feelings are contrary to knowing God will deliver, we have to change our attitude to believe and praise God – not complain.
Psalm 34:17-19 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)