Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A is for Affliction

He titled the sermon “God’s Word and Our Affliction.” The reference? Psalm 119:92. Nothing more.

I look it up. New International Version: If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

I read the whole chapter.

Affliction: Pain, misery, trouble, hardship.
A talented comedian taking his own life? Affliction.
A church leader filing for divorce? Affliction.
A man serving time for stealing to support his drug habit? Affliction.
A woman diagnosed with stage four cancer? Affliction.

Affliction. Tension. The stuff authors pour on their characters to drive the story so they can ultimately offer the reader a satisfying resolution.

But these weren’t characters in a story. These were real people. One I watched on the big screen, the others I’ve long held in my heart. And arms. And prayers.

The preacher is carefully outlining four areas of hardship. By this time I’m leaning forward. Writing furiously.

He speaks of societal hardships. Hmm…homeless? On the fringe? In the shadows? Incarcerated?

He talks to his congregants about financial hardships. Bankrupt? Sued? Welfare? Unexpected medical expenses?

He makes reference to what he calls “vocational hardships.” Underpaid? Underemployed? Under the thumb?

He identifies some relational hardships. Single, married, divorced. Broken friendships? Broken trust? Family members? Friends? How about parents and children?

His list is a treasure trove of conflict for a writer. But all I see are the faces of friends and family and a starry-eyed comedian who made me smile. And cry.

Yet, there is hope.

The Psalmist writes, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” It is in life we find affliction and it is in God’s Word we find comfort.

I pray you can find comfort in God's Word and that it may serve as a light to your path.


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