A Prayer for Understanding the “Gift” of Affliction

     It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Ps. 119:71) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Pet. 4:12)

     Dear heavenly Father, only a humble certainty about your love could have moved King David to praise you for the “gift” of affliction. The same is just as true for any of us. I well remember the years I spent trying to spiritually finagle my way out of hardship’s way—believing that if I just claimed the right verses, prayed the right prayers, did the right things, then I’d have an “abundant life”—filled with “blessings” and very few difficulties.

     Looking back at some of the early teaching I received, I can see how I was led to believe you were more of a “sugar daddy” rather than “Abba, Father.” I wasn’t thinking about learning your decrees, but about escaping discomfort. I wasn’t preoccupied with your glory being revealed among the nations, but with no unnecessary obstacles cluttering my week. I’m embarrassed as I remember that season, but encouraged as I remember my Savior.

     Lord Jesus, you took all the afflictions I deserved as a sinful rebel; now I’m only afflicted as a beloved son. Because of you, Jesus, I’m not afraid of God as my judge, but I revere and love him as my Father. Only because of you, Jesus, I no longer despise or dread the decrees of God, but I delight in them. I now understand that God’s law isn’t a set of rules by which I earn anything; they are the wisdom by which I learn about everything—everything I need for life and godliness.

     Holy Spirit, continue to make God’s glory my supreme passion, over my default mode of wanting a predictable, “safe”, manageable, hassle-free life. This short life is too precious to waste on little fancies and even smaller dreams. Because the gospel is true, help me to seek first the kingdom of God—even this very day. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ name and for his glory.