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The Christian Counter

     

Comfort in Affliction

 

Sensing the Limits of Life

 

Why is it better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting?

 

“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2.  

 

What did the psalmist ask God to teach him?

 

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” Psalm 39:4. (See also Psalm 90:12.) 

 

Sorrow’s Possibilities

 

Why is sorrow better than laughter?

 

“Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.”

Ecclesiastes 7:3.

 

Note – “Many of the loveliest songs of peace and trust and hope which God’s children sing in this world have been taught in the hushed and darkened chambers of sorrow…. Afflictions, sanctified, soften the asperities of life. They tame the wildness of nature. They temper human ambitions. They burn out the dross of selfishness and worldliness. They humble pride. They quell fierce passions. They reveal to men their own hearts, their own weaknesses, faults, blemishes, and perils. They teach patience and submission. They discipline unruly spirits. They deepen and enrich our experiences.” –J.R. Miller, Week-day Religion, pp. 90, 91.

 

Are the righteous freed from afflictions in this world?

 

A righteous man may have troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

Psalm 34: 19.   

 

Does God delight to afflict any?

 

“For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” Lamentations 3:31-33.

 

Does He afflict to leave the one chastened in despair?

 

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injuries, but his hands also heal.” Job 5:17,18.

 

In what language is the same truth again expressed?

 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted. To proclaim freedom fro the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3.   (See also Hosea 6:1.)

 

Whom does God discipline?

 

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

Hebrews 12:6.

 

In this, for the time being, a source of pleasure?

 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Verse 11.

 

Note – “Many of the sweetest joys of Christian hearts are songs which have been learned in the bitterness of trial.” “Many a cold, icy nature is made warm and tender by the grief that crushes it.” –J.R. Miller, Week-Day Religion, pp. 89, 91.

 

What, aside from sin, causes more sorrow than all else?

 

Death, or the loss of a loved ones.

 

Does death bring to Christians distressing sorrow?    

 

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13. 

 

Note – The loss of loved ones is sometimes the means of conversion and the severing of ties that bind to earth. Persecution; sickness; the loss of sight, hearing, or limb; the loss of property; or other calamities may likewise be instrumental in drawing us nearer to God. (See Psalm 119:71; Isaiah 26:9.)

 

Who is the author of disease and death?

 

“Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

Luke 13:16.  “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.  

 

Note – It should be remembered that suffering and death come from Satan, the one who “sowed tares among the wheat.” (Matthew 13:25.) But God overrules the devices of the enemy for the good of those who put their trust in Him. He works all things for the good to them that love Him.” (Romans 8:28.)

 

What do our transient afflictions do for us?

 

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an external glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17. (See Romans 8:28.)  

 

God and Affliction

 

Are God’s people free from affliction?

 

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

Psalm 34:19.

 

How does the Lord regard the afflicted?

 

“They caused the cry of the poor to come before him, so that he heard the cry of the needy.” Job 34:28.

 

What has He promised to be to those in trouble?

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1.

 

With what feelings does the Lord look upon His children? 

 

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Psalm 103:13.

 

What does He know and remember?

 

“For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Verse 14.

 

What has the Lord promised to be to the oppressed?

 

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9.

 

What has God promised His children when they pass through trials and afflictions?

 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2.

 

Learning Lessons Through Affliction

 

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:71.

 

When afflicted, for what did he pray?

 

“Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.” Psalm 25:18.

 

Before he was afflicted, what did he do?

 

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” Psalm 119:67.

 

What did Christ learn through suffering?

 

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Hebrews 5:8.  

 

In the perfecting of character, what must come to all? What attitude should we take when disciplined by God?

 

“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Hebrews 12:5,6. 

 

Is this disciplining a pleasant experience?

 

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Verse 11.

 

What courage and strength, therefore, should come to us even in the hour of affliction?

 

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Verse 12. (See also Job 4:3, 4; Isaiah 35:3.)

 

What did Job say in the midst of his afflictions?

 

“Though he slay me; yet will I trust in him.” Job 13:15.

 

Receiving and Giving Comfort

 

What is God called in the Scriptures?

 

‘The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3.   

 

Whom does God comfort?

 

“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”

2 Corinthians 7:6.

 

What promise is made to those that mourn?

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4.

 

Why does God comfort us in tribulation?

 

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4.

 

Note – One who has passed through trouble and affliction himself, and received comfort from God, is better able to minister comfort to others.”

 

How should we sympathize with others when they experience sorrow?

 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15. “A despairing man should have devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14.

 

Does Jesus sympathize with us in our affliction?

 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.”

Hebrews 4:15. 

 

How did he manifest His sympathy in the case of Mary and her friends weeping over the death of Lazarus?

 

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept.” John 11:33-35. 

 

Note – Not alone for Mary and her friends did Jesus weep. Looking down through the ages, He saw the tears and the heartaches that death would bring to mankind in this sin-stricken world. His heart was touched with human woe, and He wept with those who wept.

 

Whatever may come, what blessed assurance has everyone who loves God?

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

 

From Tears to Eternal Joy

 

In despair, like whom should we not sorrow?

 

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who have fallen asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13. 

 

When our friends fall asleep in death, with what words are we told to comfort one another?

 

‘We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own words, we tell you hat we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” Verses 14-18.  {Comfort one another with these words]

 

What did Christ say would be the experience of His people in this world?

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33.

 

In what respect is the reaping of God’s people to differ from their sowing?

 

‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5,6. (See also Psalm 30:11.)

 

God’s Plan The Best

 

Nothing just “happens” to the Christians. Everything that enters his life is sent or permitted to come by an all wise and all-loving heavenly Father, and is designed for the perfection of character and the fitting up and the enlargement of capacity of service. The rocks are rough places on the mountainside are the things we climb on. Even failures, if taken rightly, may become steppingstones to higher ground. 

The Scriptures tell us that “all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. In these words many claim the promise that makes adjustments in life less difficult and life itself more easily to understand.

 


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