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.