The Day of Affliction

Michael Beck

All days are not equal. After many relatively good days, “days of affliction” can suddenly “take hold” of us.

And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. (Job 30:16)

When we are afflicted the circumstances in our life are troubling (i.e., evil.)

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15)

Some lives have more days of affliction than others.

I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up… (Psalm 88:15)

Affliction has different causes. There is affliction we bring upon ourselves because of sin.

Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. (Psalm 107:17)

There are “days of evil” when our sin finally “catches up” with us.

Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? (Psalm 49:5)

… Be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. (Luke 12:2)

In a day of affliction, the consequences we have brought upon ourselves (and others) can cause us to cry out in pain.

Why criest thou for thine affliction? thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity: because thy sins were increased, I have done these things unto thee. (Jeremiah 30:15)

God commonly uses “prisons of affliction” to call men to repentance.

And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. (Job 36:8-10)

When bound in a “prison of affliction,” some people, who previously spurned God’s counsel and rebelled against His word, can humble themselves and cry out to God.

Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. (Psalm 107:10-13)

Manasseh is an example of one who would not listen to God until the day of affliction took hold of him.

And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 33:10-12)

The word most often used for “afflict” is the Hebrew verb, anah, which speaks of being humbled or brought low.

Instead of being humbled and crying out to God, some people cry out against God in a day of affliction.

Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. (Hosea 7:13,14)

The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD. (Proverbs 19:3)

Instead of humbly turning to God in affliction, some proudly turn further away from Him.

For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 9:13)

Only those who know that God is all-good, escape a “prison of affliction” without it turning them away from Him.

I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. (Psalm 119:75)

Those who let themselves be corrected understand that the affliction that took hold of them was ultimately for their good.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. (Psalm 119:71)

God uses a “day of affliction” to be a turning point in our life.

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (Psalm 119:67)

A lady was once summering in Switzerland, and in her mountain walks she came upon a sheepfold. She stood and watched very interestedly, for there was one poor sheep lying there moaning and looking very sick. She saw his leg was broken and full of pity, asked how it had happened.”I broke it myself,” said the shepherd sadly. She was even more pitiful, for she thought it must have been an accident.

“No,” said the shepherd, “it was done on purpose; it was the only way. That sheep will follow me afterward, when I’ve nursed it and got it better, and it will always come at my call then. But before it wouldn’t; it was always wandering off into dangerous places, and it wouldn’t let me take care of it along with the rest, and wouldn’t even come when I called. It would have got killed certainly if I hadn’t done that.” – Living Stream

Those who are willing to be chastened by the Lord want just enough to work healing and restoration to their soul.

O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? (Psalm 6:1-3)

Those who turn to God in their affliction, want Him to turn to them. They cry out to Him for mercy concerning their past and uprightness for their future.

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. (Psalm 25:15-21)

David’s “day of affliction” worked a “good” brokenness in his life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

Whether we are made better or worse through chastening depends upon whether we have “godly sorrow” or not.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. (2 Corinthians 7:9)

The evidence of whether we have turned to the Lord is found in our subsequent zealous actions to do what is right and depart from our prior sin.

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:10,11)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.