I have harbored some guilt in the way I have handled myself in my hardest of afflictions. For months I lay in bed and was completely unable to cope with life. Life seemed so painful that I wished to cease to exist; I even wondered why God had not just taken me at the birth of my youngest child instead of miraculously saving my life. I struggled with intense emotions of hate, anger, grief, and depression. I have always believed that if I remain faithful through my trials (Proverbs 28:20) with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalms 24:4) that the Lord will turn my curse (trial) into a blessing (Deut 22:5). I didn’t think that my current emotions and actions (or lack of) showed faithfulness or purity. I felt that somehow I should be “happily” bearing my burden instead of bemoaning it. I was convinced that any blessing that could eventually come my way was certainly lost. I have come to realize that I had yet another belief that needed to die and be resurrected.
My first realization that this idea was false came from reading Job. Job was considered a “perfect and upright man” by the Lord and yet during his trial he wished he was never born, he no longer wanted to live, and he was completely weighed down with pain, misery, and grief to the point that he could not cope.
Job 3:1-3,11-13 After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. 11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? 12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck? 13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
Job 10:1,16-18 My soul is weary of my life;… 18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. 20 Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,
Job 3:20-26 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; 21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; 22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave? 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? 24 For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. 25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. 26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
Job 6:2-4 Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! 3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. 4 For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.
Job 2:11,13 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; …13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Job felt very similar emotions to mine and not only was he still worthy of blessing, he was still considered righteous by the Lord. I think this is because the negative emotion is the affliction. In fact, in the very moment that negative emotions leaves, a trial or adversity ceases to be such. Affliction is defined as a state of pain, distress, grief, or misery. If God were to take all of the negative emotion from me, by definition I would no longer have an affliction or trial. How could Job be tried if the Lord wiped out all the emotion and hardships associated with his trial? It was by the things Christ suffered that he learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8) and it is by the things we suffer that we too learn obedience. God doesn’t take away our trials or all of the emotions that go with it because he wants us to become something. He is trying to purify us and make us more like him. He wants to glorify us with him.
Zechariah 13: 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
It is through our suffering we become refined and purified as gold and silver. Negative emotions or afflictions are necessary in this purification process. I recognize that I do have need of repentance for some of the emotion and action but I also recognize that the affliction or negative emotion is making me into what God would have me be. It almost seems like a “Catch-22”; we need to sin (have affliction or negative emotion) to be better but if we become weighted down by sin we can’t progress. This leads to the need for the atonement of Jesus Christ; his suffering, death, and resurrection. God has provided a way for me to learn and grow through my mistakes and to become stronger through my weaknesses; his plan is perfect! My ability to repent and find forgiveness through him not only makes me worthy of future blessings but also allows me to become something that I could not become on my own. Am I proud of how I handled myself in my most severe afflictions? Not really, but I know that I am much stronger because of them!