Over steaming bowls of apples and oats, Husband reads the words.
“It was good…”
Things don’t seem so good. The skies keep pouring rain and our support has run out and the bills are starting to pile up and Husband’s already gone 7am-10pm and how in the world can he ~ all of us~ take on more?
“It was good for me to be afflicted,” Husband reads. I sit up in my seat. Really? Who says that, that affliction is good? I need to tune in right about now.
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.”
Husband glances over at me and smiles. He knows.
“Although He was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered…”
I can’t help the breath from escaping heavy and the shoulders from stooping. I’m a child too, receiving correction.
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
Oldest is looking at me now too, smiling, laughing. Everyone in this family knows this Word is for me.
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you…Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.”
Was it just last night that I told God He had to break through for me, that I couldn’t do this anymore?
We finish eating Words and oats and we clear dishes and I rinse sticky bowls… and I know Words will be my staple food today.
The kids get dressed and make their beds and I sit down again with today’s Daily Light.
There’s a purpose to affliction.
I pour over the words and make a list in my journal, all the reasons given for hardship.
Like a bride’s veil being swept back, I see the beauty beneath. There are reasons for the mind-numbing days and the never ending pain and the deep deprivation and the soul desperation.
Affliction teaches us obedience.
I meditate and I chew and I imagine. I see Jesus, driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, that harsh season of pain, need, and trial. Cold nights in isolation and dark days of testing and hunger.
This wasn’t about Him proving His worth, earning God’s favor. The Beloved Son had already been approved, accepted, and publicly validated.
No, the wilderness was not about performing. It was about power…the kind only possible through learning obedience.
And with that wilderness account, Jesus, in the flesh, set the example for us on how to live powerful, purposeful lives.
I hear Him beckon.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…” “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 4:1, 14
The Spirit, alive and aching to be made manifest in Him, led Jesus into the wilderness. The word for “led” means “to drive.” So intent was the Spirit to unleash His power upon Jesus’ life, He drove Him to the wilderness.
There He ”learned obedience from affliction.”
Before His first miracle…before His name became known…before He stood up in the assembly and said the time was fulfilled, Jesus learned submission. And He returned in power.
I ponder these things while I help children buckle up in the van. We drive into town to take Little Bit to her speech therapy appointment. The rain slaps hard and the wipers rush to keep up.
The children are quiet. Dark skies have us all silent.
Again, I imagine Jesus, our example to living full of the Spirit’s power. He’s crouching low to spit on the ground. Even this was purposeful. Even this was powerful.
Could the wilderness have prepared Him for that, to know when, where, and how to spit?
Yes, it’s how He knew to stop and stoop and spit on the ground and do the miraculous.
It’s how He could sleep in a storm.
He had learned obedience through affliction…the obedience of living in complete submission and unity with the Father and the Spirit. It empowered Him to live His life, fulfill His calling.
And I sense deep within that same Spirit urging me, driving me, calling me in the wilderness. “Learn of Me,” He says. “I am jealous for you.”
I’m ashamed of my bellyaching…what when God has such a divine, noble purpose for me.
Affliction is good. Surrender is learned, and this is how.
It is when we are returning from Little Bit’s speech appointment that the kids start to fight. I sit at the stop sign with wipers pumping and I hear it on the radio: “You want to overcome the stress in your life? I’ve got one sentence for you to pray, just one. It’s simply this: “Teach me to do Your will, O Lord.” (Ps 143:10)
The rain pours and the kids fight and I sit at the intersection in shock.
I can’t believe He would orchestrate all of this for me to get this message right. He is Spirit driving and Jealous Lover and I asked and He answered and is making sure I don’t miss it.
Preacher says it right there on the radio: “Get into yoke with Jesus. 90% of the stress in a Christian’s life comes from unwillingness in the heart to bring their lives under the control of Jesus. (Pastor David Jeremiah)
“I know what you are longing for,” Meek and Gentle whispers. “Learn from Me. Let this affliction teach you obedience.”
“My burden is easy, there is no need to fear. Come and be a disciple; learn submission to Me. Let me teach you how to live under My control and domination.”
Affliction is good.
“Yes, Lord,” my heart responds. “Teach me to do Your will.”