Romans 5:2-4 “Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.”
The Definition of Affliction
1. A state of pain, distress, or grief; misery: They sympathized with us in our affliction.
2. A cause of mental or bodily pain, as sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution
Syn: Calamity; sorrow; distress; grief; pain; adversity; misery; wretchedness; misfortune; trouble; hardship.
Usage: Affliction and sorrow are terms of wide and general application; grief and distress have reference to particular cases. Affliction is the stronger term. The suffering lies deeper in the soul, and usually arises from some powerful cause, such as the loss of what is most dear -- friends, health, etc. We do not speak of mere sickness or pain as "an affliction," though one who suffers from either is said to be afflicted; but deprivations of every kind, such as deafness, blindness, loss of limbs, etc., are called afflictions, showing that term applies particularly to prolonged sources of suffering. Sorrow and grief are much alike in meaning, but grief is the stronger term of the two, usually denoting poignant mental suffering for some definite cause, as, grief for the death of a dear friend; sorrow is more reflective, and is tinged with regret, as, the misconduct of a child is looked upon with sorrow. Grief is often violent and demonstrative; sorrow deep and brooding. Distress implies extreme suffering, either bodily or mental. In its higher stages, it denotes pain of a restless, agitating kind, and almost always supposes some struggle of mind or body. Affliction is allayed, grief subsides, sorrow is soothed, and distress is mitigated.
Psalm 6:6 “I am weary from my groaning; with my tears I dampen my pillow and drench my bed every night.”
How many times have you felt this way? Been suffering from pain, distress, grief or misery and asked God, “God, why is this happening to me? It’s not fair! What have I done to deserve this? When will it end?”
It took me quite a while to more fully understand why Father would want us to rejoice in our afflictions, and how we were expected to do so. When I read Romans 5:2-4 which is quoted at the start of this article, I understood completely that afflictions produce endurance and endurance produces proven character. I could see how each affliction endured was like a hurdle we must jump and how there were lessons along the way that make us stronger and wiser. But rejoice? How could I possibly be GLAD that I’m experiencing pain, distress, grief or misery? I could endure…but how much character did I need? And how long would it take to obtain proven character?
And then late one night as I prayed for strength during a time of mental stress and suffering, I heard within my mind, “rejoice in your afflictions, for they bring you closer to Me.”.
And I’d have to say that’s when it hit me. Who do I turn to when I’m suffering and affliction? Father. She’s the one who provides comfort and who speaks to and guides my heart in any given situation. And while afflictions do definitely produce endurance and proven character, they also bring us closer to Her when She is the one we turn to when we’re experiencing these afflictions – She hears our prayers and sees our tears. And they also bring us further along the narrow path in making it home to Her for Eternity, which is yet another way of coming closer to Her.
2 Kings 20:5 "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, 'This is what the LORD God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will heal you. On the third day [from now] you will go up to the LORD's temple.”
So now I understand why we should rejoice in our afflictions, knowing that Father is there to comfort, guide, counsel and support us each and every step of the way. Rejoice and continue looking to Her and thanking Her for each day that goes by regardless of if it's a day with or without afflictions. Rejoice in knowing She’s the One who is always faithfully there for us and She is the One who sooths our sorrows, allays our afflictions and mitigates our distress and rejoice in knowing that through it all we grow ever closer to Her.
And finally, rejoice in knowing that it will not be forever… for the LORD has also spoken the following words:
Isaiah 25:8 “He will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face and remove His people's disgrace from the whole earth, for the LORD has spoken.”