Category Archives: trouble

Sanctified affliction

Joel Beeke uses the term “sanctified affliction” in his chapter on “Experiential Preaching” in Feed My Sheep (gen.ed. Don Kistler), p. 104, where he is discussing Romans 5:3-5.

We often consider tribulations as setbacks to our goals. If God intends them to work patience then perhaps it is to slow us down. There can be a danger in reaching a goal too soon. Consider Israel as they came out of Egypt. God took them on a two-year journey before he led them to a point where they could enter Canaan. At that point they sinned and spend 40 years in all in tribulation. But those initial two years were not wasted, because during them they gained experience, not so much of life in the wilderness, but of life with God at the centre. For them, God was at the centre of the camp, but that pointed to the necessity of God at the centre of life. They also gained experience of God’s provision. This ought to have strengthened their hope, but when they came to enter the land, hope gave way to despair on the basis of a faulty conclusion drawn from 40 days’ experience by 10 men. Their two years of hope-inducing tribulation in the wilderness seemed to be for nothing.

It is a salutary lesson to us that we do not waste our affliction and tribulation. If we would have sanctified affliction we should learn that God blesses our troubles:

When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
James Montgomery