This post is part of the book launch of Meeting God at Wits’ End: Hope for the Weary
God’s Afflicted People
Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.”
To say that God’s ways are inscrutable is an understatement. Four hundred years of affliction is a long time. Imagine yourself in their sandals. You’ve heard about your three great forefathers and some far-distant promise. You’ve been told you’re part of God’s people because you’re Abraham’s offspring. Yet, the Egyptians have enslaved you and there doesn’t seem any end in sight—hard labor, little sleep. Does that make sense?
Our concept of reality is greatly shaped by the era and part of the world we live in. Writing from a rich, western mindset, there are millions of Christians who live in dire circumstances, barely having the necessities of life. They’re in constant survival mode, struggling to see their children without sufficient food. Nevertheless, they’re part of God’s people.
In Hebrews, we read how Christians faced persecution, were imprisoned, and their property was plundered (see Heb. 10:34). That’s also currently happening to Christians around the world. Is that even something we can consider as an everyday part of Christianity? Or, are we assuming too much entitlement?
As Christians, we need a significant make-over. The world—reality—is mostly not according to our own point of reference. All the “Christian” self-esteem books are worthless in most parts of the world. They simply need the living Christ.
What has that to do with our current wits’ end? We need to realize that affliction and suffering is part of life. Sometimes it doesn’t go away, including as part of God’s plan (see Rev. 6:10-11). That doesn’t mean we have to be passive and simply endure it. Rather, we need to develop a heavenly mindset.
Jesus was able to endure the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2). The Christians in Hebrews were able to joyfully accept the plundering of their property, since they knew that they had “a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34).
The answer to continual affliction is to look ahead, not based on some obscure hope, but on God’s everlasting word. To use a trite expression: there’s heavenly light at the end of the dark tunnel of affliction. The more we realize what’s to come—eternal bliss—the more we’re able to joyfully persevere.
Jesus, help me to realize that You are my Hope, especially when I’m afflicted.
The Devotional Writer