Loved in Spite of Afflictions

I have faced the same affliction for years, although I have prayed for God to remove it many times. The tribulations continue although I have wept and prayed. For years I have repeatedly requested that God change things, make them better, and make ME better. Over and over I failed to achieve success over my affliction. The failure hit me hard and led me to believe that God had turned his back on me.

My failures brought me to realize I needed to begin reading my Bible again to find a reason why God was allowing me to go through this difficult time. However, I didn't encounter what I thought I would. With a prosperous ministry, the Apostle Paul was a mighty man of God. He was a well-respected and often heeded leader of the early church. Despite that, life was very difficult. He suffered through many shipwrecks, drifted at sea, was beaten with rods, was lashed till he was near death, was imprisoned, was nearly killed in riots, was bitten by a poisonous snake, was stoned and left for dead, and was eventually killed by the Romans.

Paul prayed for his "thorn in the flesh" to go away as well, but it never did, despite his prayers (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). But he went ahead, knowing that the light at the end was worth all he had to endure. John, the Apostle, was very blessed by God and was probably the closest to Jesus among the disciples. Many things mark the faithfulness of John: he witnessed all miracles and mysteries, never denied Christ, was forever faithful even when others were not, was present for each of Jesus' hearings, was asked by Christ to look after Mary upon his death, witnessed Jesus' death and his resurrection, was a leader of the early church, and was a witness to the events in Revelations.

But he was also persecuted, tortured, exiled, and left alone to die on an island. His life was very full of trials. Daniel was raised to an exalted position by God. He loved God and refused to worship anyone else. He was given to a master who suffered him to remain a vegetarian, was rewarded for his loyalty and for his ability to interpret dreams, rose to a place over that held by the King's magicians, survived in a den full of lions, was informed of the future by the angel Gabriel himself, and lived to be an old man.

However, he was also removed from his home and had to bear watching many of his people die. He was thrown into the lions den and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace all due to their faith and relationship with God. He lived the life of a slave and was cast away by every new ruler.

He lost his life away from his homeland as a slave. There are hundreds of examples found in Scripture of people who loved and served the Lord, yet still had many trails and tasks put upon them. Examples of men and women "of whom the world was not worthy" (Hebrews 11:38) include Job, Ruth, David, Lazarus, Moses, Peter, and all of the prophets.

God used all of them for His glory, showing that while life can be hard and the world will not always be friendly, we will be held by Him until the very end. God never cast off these men and women, and He never abandoned them. But not once did God ever promise that their lives were going to be easy. It couldn't be clearer than in John 16:33: "In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

" So why do I complain about a single sickness? The Bible presents us with several stories of men and women experiencing afflictions and troubles. God is always faithful, however. He never promised life would be easy or carefree. The only thing he promised was that, no matter what, He'll still be with us - through thick and thin. My own problems don't feel so large when I think of the trails faced by many others. Maybe I can use my hardship for the glory of God like Paul did.

Maybe if people knew of my imperfections, they would see that God can help them with their weaknesses too. Besides, God did proclaim, "My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Knowing that God has a plan for me, I will gladly bear my weakness the best that I can.

And I will find strength in the words God gave to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you." My hope is that others will see me the way God does: a person with an affliction that can still be a mighty force for the Lord.

Bethany Chastain, a woman who is "on fire for God." tries her best to learn the lessons that God has for her so she can communicate them to her children and others. One of the best ways that she learned to communicate about God is through Christian t-shirts, Jesus t-shirts, and purity jewelry. Her message keeps her eyes on Christ.

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