Victory through Affliction

AFFLICTIONIn Chapter 7 of The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge points out the many ways God uses affliction in our lives.

He uses them to refine and correct us, to motivate us to know Him more, and as catalysts for spiritual growth. Afflictions in God’s hands remind us of our dependence on Him and of His love for us. They also create compassion within us and make us encouraging to others.

God also uses afflictions to restore His people and to focus our gaze on Heaven. He uses them to point out His activity and to bring about radical obedience.

God always uses affliction in our lives to reveal His glory.

When faced with affliction, we must choose whether or not we will let God use it as a great refining work in our lives or if we will be immobilized by it. For years, it immobilized me.

As I find myself beginning what our culture terms “middle age,” I find myself asking, as Sorge notes of David & Hezekiah, “Lord, you’re taking me away in the prime of my life! I’m too young for this.”

I too often feel like the best years of my life were swallowed up in affliction, that it’s all downhill from here. Yet, something in me recognizes this as a lie. Out of somewhere deep inside, resilience knows to push through, to struggle, to persevere. But that didn’t always exist. Where did it come from?

Sorge reviews Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4 and 2 Peter 1:5-8, outlining the pathway to spiritual maturity that each provides. In doing so, he notes that “There is no pathway to spiritual maturity apart from perseverance. And there is no perseverance without pressures. Fruitfulness is found only as we endure through crisis and hardship.”

I’m not sure about the level of fruitfulness at this point, but I know I possess a level of perseverance born out of desperation, a desperation that pushed me toward Christ. As a result of what that desperation did in my life, I also pray for people I love get desperate too. Sorge says this of desperation,sf_HeavensChampion_01

“Affliction naturally produces desperation within us. Some people respond by trying to survive. Others respond by lashing out at everything within reach. Others collapse and live in a state of depression. God purposes, however, that we channel that desperation toward a fervent pursuit of His face.”

My own story of desperation involves all of these levels seemingly moving in an upward spiral toward knowing God more. For so long, I simply survived life. I lashed out at everything – and everyone – within reach. And I collapsed & lived in a state of depression way too often.

Life certainly involves struggle, this I know for sure. Fortunately, God uses that struggle to refine us and  draw us to Him.

But life is also about victory. It’s about knowing He already won the victory. It’s about refusing to dwell on the affliction or adversity and to instead focus on the victory.

“OVERWHELMING VICTORY is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other participants include DustyGlynn, Joell, Rick, and TC. If I missed anyone, please let me know whom in the comments below.

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20 Replies to “Victory through Affliction”

  1. I've been there too, Kari. I found rest in Him, but I kept struggling for loner than I needed to. I used to think of the victory as His alone — like I could just be happy for Him and that I would enjoy it in heaven. Now I believe the victory is mine today. What joy!

    1. I am realizing that life always involves struggle, which garners little argument from anyone. However, we often failnto liv in the victory we already have, that Christ won for us & gives us freely. So as we struggle, we live in victory too. I know, very simplified, but I find so much peace in this truth. Maybe my site should be called \”Struggle & Victory\” instead.

          1. Maybe it should be Struggles and Victories. 🙂 I know even when I get through a struggle it often does not feel like a victory. It feels more relief than celebration. I know my mindset has a lot to do with it; the thinking that affliction is something we should not have to endure; that something is wrong if we are in the midst of it; that we have no control; that we are not being blessed if we are fighting some trial. It is hard to refine our thinking when we are being bruised and bloodied. Unless God helps us I see no way to view affliction other than something I want no part of. I wish we were not such that it took affliction to drive us to God; to drive us to that desperate dependence on Him; I wish that we would strive towards that without being pushed by dire circumstances.

          2. Rejoicing in sufferings is so counter-cultural. We resist sufferings. But avoiding them keeps us from experiencing more victories. I am realizing what scripture means by the benefits of struggles. I would not be as close to Him – as fully experiencing victory – without the struggles.

  2. If one fails to struggle what he considers victory is really not. Take basketball for example. If a team constantly wipes out the other team and is never challenged, can they really claim victory? They may be good, but how can they know for sure. to use the team in another way: every team is a winner in practice. It is only on the field of battle whether they find if they truly are or not.

    1. Great way to explain it. The only way we know for sure that we are making progress is to have struggles & trials. They are the only way we truly can know victory. How often do we just keep practicing and seek to stay out of the game. How much fear is there for not getting in the game because of the proof that takes place?

  3. It's interesting to note how often the prayer "make Your face to shine upon me/us" shows up in the Psalms. Just this morning, I was talking to someone about troubles we've experienced as parents. We both agreed that those troubles caused us to pray more and to seek God in the midst of adversity.

  4. Kari, you are so right in that we easily hear and believe lies. Thankfully you are learning and growing and sharing your story with all of us, because that helps us grow too. I love the song, "through it all", because if I never had a problem, I would not know God could and does solve them…I have learned so much through my struggles and am so grateful for a loving and caring ABBA that never let me go. They say when things are going too smoothly watch out, because you may already be in trouble and Satan doesn't need to bother you.:) I guess I am safe….Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. We need to be deliberate about our walk. It's when we don't pay attention that Satan attacks, and he disguises what he's doing in good and bad. Need to be every watchful & vigilant.

  5. One of the most important ideas for Christians to dwell on is the fact that through Christ we do already have a future victory that is far greater and longer lasting than any victory or defeat here on earth. Thanks for sharing this encouraging thought Kari!

  6. I love that last quote on desperation. It has been so interesting for me in recent months to become aware of how every experience is God's voice. Learning to trust that has been a huge deal in helping me interpret desperate times in the way you describe. And to respond, like you say, by going to Him.

    1. God will operate in every detail of our lives if we allow Him to do so. He wants to spend every moment with us, leading us through desperate times and into the victorious ones. Keep trusting & increasing your faith, my friend.

  7. Great thoughts and I can feel the fire of your personal experience even though you don't share all the details. I think you say something powerful in talking about focusing on affliction. I believe that's the enemy's plan to get us so preoccupied with lack, limitation, or affliction that we don't see past it. God invites us to lift our eyes and see Him. Thank you, Kari.

    1. Focusing on affliction means focusing on growth, as long as that focus means taking the path where Jesus is pointing. Avoiding or forcing another way has never worked out well for me. Thanks, Jason.

  8. Each passing birthday makes me look back at my life as well. There are definitely times where I was going through affliction, and that's when God was the closest to me. We live in a culture of go, go, go – but sometimes delays and periods of waiting are exactly what we need.

    1. The busier we get as a culture, the more I think God will use delays and waiting to redirect His people. He wants us to have peace and rest, and He guides us in how that can happen. We just need to follow where He points.

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