When I was a boy, a popular way to insult a classmate was to say, “When God was handing out brains, that kid thought He said ‘pains,’ and hid behind the door.” Let’s face it, none of us likes to suffer pain, afflictions, or tribulations! Because of this, God’s people can often be found on their knees behind the door, asking God to shield them from these unpleasant things, or remove them once they become part of their lives.
And yet the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that afflictions are good for us! Consider just this small smattering of verses that describe the spiritual value of afflictions:
“And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (II Chron. 33:12).
“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word….It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psa. 119:67,71).
When God’s people are not afflicted, they tend to forget Him. Speaking of the people of Israel, God said,
“…when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery” (Jer. 5:7).
“According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me” (Hos. 13:6).
Speaking of God and Jeshurun (Israel), Moses said,
“He made him…eat the increase of the fields…suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs….But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked…then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:13-15).
When God speaks to us in the absence of afflictions, we tend not to listen:
“I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear” (Jer. 22:21).
There’s just something about afflictions that draw us closer to God! No wonder Paul said, “we glory in tribulations” (Rom. 5:3), “knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (v. 4). Once we learn God’s grace is sufficient for all our needs, we can say with Paul:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities…for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Cor. 12:9,10).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.