Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Advantages of Affliction

A few weeks ago Erin posted a wonderful poem by the pastor and hymn-writer John Newton, one of the most famous and beloved figures of the 18th Century Evangelical Revivals in England. I recently came across a letter Newton wrote to a member of his congregation in which he describes the “advantages of afflictions.”

Newton writes, “The advantages of afflictions, when the Lord is please to employ them for the good of his people, are many and great.”
1. Afflictions quicken us to prayer.
2. Afflictions are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive in us a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of the present world, and all its enjoyments; to remind us that this is not our rest, and to call our thoughts upwards, where our true treasure is, and where our conversation ought to be.
3. Afflictions give us a more enlarged and experiential acquaintance with his holy word.
4. Afflictions give us occasion to know and notice more of the Lord’s wisdom, power, and goodness, in supporting and relieving, than we should otherwise have known.
5. Afflictions evidence to ourselves and manifest to others the reality of grace.
6. Afflictions advance our conformity to Jesus our Lord, who was a man of sorrows for our sake.
7. Afflictions increase our desire for heaven.

It certainly has been our experience that afflictions have many advantages, and by God’s grace, many of the things Newton names on this list have been fruits of the affliction in our lives in recent months.