“God rescues the afflicted by their affliction; He instructs them by their torment” (Job 36:15, HCSB).
In the story of Job, Elihu was the fourth and last to speak from among Job’s friends. Elihu was younger than the others and waited to speak, giving deference to the older men.
Though younger, Elihu believed he was speaking God’s truth in confronting Job, but he claimed neither human superiority nor inferiority to Job.
Elihu had listened carefully to Job’s claims of being pure and innocent and being unjustly oppressed by God.
And Elihu reminded Job that as a human being, he was not in a position to bring accusations against God, his Creator.
Elihu declared to Job that instead of being a sign of God’s unconcern as Job had supposed, affliction was a mark of God’s mercy, keeping one from the path of iniquity.
In other words, the very thing that afflicts you may also be what saves you.
God can use your affliction to rescue and restore you to Him and His will. Your affliction can spiritually develop you into a human being that is prepared for spending eternity with God!
Admittedly, affliction is not my first choice for spiritual growth. In fact, I like to avoid affliction as much as possible. So, I often recite from the Lord’s prayer the supplication that Jesus teaches us to pray for protection from affliction: “And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, HCSB).
Indeed, our affliction may sometimes be one way that God deals with issues in our lives that could potentially cause us to be unfaithful. But this verse does not say that God afflicts us, but that He rescues and restores us through our affliction. (Remember, it was Satan that afflicted Job; it was Satan that tested Job, not God.)
Because affliction causes us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy!
That which causes my pain and suffering is also that which can restore me to intimacy with God.
That which causes me to give up and quit is also that which empowers me to endure and persevere.
So what we perceive to be our problem is actually the solution to our problem!
In fact, our affliction may even prevent evil or temptation from overtaking or overcoming us: “Be careful that you do not turn to iniquity, for that is why you have been tested by affliction” (vs. 21).
When I was a boy, I joined the boy scouts. In scouting you earn merit badges for demonstrating a useful skill or a good behavior. By earning merit badges, a scout may advance in rank. Advancement in rank acknowledges the scout’s growing ability to serve others better.
Our afflictions are God’s merit badges. They are designed to empower us to become more obedient and productive as Jesus’s disciples.