“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them: and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”– Isa 63:9.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. There is the affliction of ill-health, which compels us to stand aside and leave our tasks to others. The languor of sleepless nights, the inactivity and loneliness of the long days, the fear of being burdensome to others. The anxiety as to how this or that interest may fare in inexperienced hands. The sense of helplessness and weakness. These are the ingredients of that cup which many have to drink!
There is the affliction of poverty, when every door seems closed against our appeal; when hundreds of applicants are answering the same advertisement; when the cruse of oil has been drained of its last drop, and the barrel scraped bare; when the rent is overdue, the boots are wearing out in vain journeys, and the faces and clothes of the children begin to tell the tale of privation–then the iron seems to enter our soul!
There is the affliction of uncongenial companionship. “Woe to them that sojourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents of Kedar!” To how many the Psalmist’s words would express their precise position: “My soul hath long dwelt with him who hateth peace; I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” There is even profounder suffering, when man or woman is mated for life with one who is out of Christ, or is the one Christian disciple in an irreligious family. It was with a deep knowledge of human nature that the Apostle urged his converts not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
There is also the affliction of temptation. Jealousy, pride, discontent, self-will–these assail us from without, and too often they find a response from within, as though there were an accomplice in hiding.
Such are some of the problems and afflictions which darken our experience. The mistake is that we face our troubles without God’s fellowship, consciously realised. We carry our burdens, without casting them upon the Lord, and claiming the grace which waits to help us in our hour of need. We do not realise that He has come down to deliver us, because He knows our sorrows. In all our afflictions He is afflicted.
O God, we have no help but Thine, nor do we need another arm save Thine to lean upon. Teach us how to gain strength from Thee hour by hour,—- that strength which Thou hast stored for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.–F B Meyer