He must afflict us!
(James Smith, "Afflictions Necessary" 1853)
"He does not afflict willingly." Lamentations 3:33
Here is a fact well known — the Lord afflicts His children. Trouble never springs out of the dust — nor do afflictions come by 'chance'. No! Every trial and affliction is sent from our Father's throne — and its direction is written by our Father's hand. He appoints the kind, the degree, and the direction of our afflictions.
We are afflicted with disappointments, losses, and crosses. None are exempt. None can always escape, for "the Lord tries the righteous." "Many are the afflictions of the righteous."
"He does not afflict willingly." He only grieves us from necessity. He has fixed His end, which is to make us holy, and to conform us to the image of His Son; from this, He will not be diverted — but He will surely accomplish it.
In the afflictions which He sends, God aims at . . .
our deeper sanctification,
or our greater usefulness,
or simply at His own glory,
which is always linked with our good.
He therefore afflicts us — to exercise our graces; these would otherwise often lie dormant, become weak, fade, and wither.
God afflicts His children — to wean us from the world, to which we are too much attached, and would be more so, if it were not for trials, disappointments, and vexations.
God afflicts His children — to embitter sin, which is the prolific root, on which every pain, grief and sorrow grows.
God afflicts His children — to endear the Savior, who is our solace in sorrow, and will be our glorious deliverer from it. Never does Jesus appear so precious — as in the hours of trouble and trial.
God afflicts His children — to prevent our falling into temptation, which we would do more frequently, if we were not kept awake and watchful by our various sorrows.
God afflicts His children — to fit us for usefulness, for as the land must be ploughed, harrowed, and crushed — if it is to be fruitful and supply our needs; just so must we be tempted, tried, and troubled — if we are to be of much use to man, or to bring much glory to God.
God afflicts His children, to make us long for heaven — which we seldom do when all is pleasant, bright, and sunny below.
If God loves us with an infinite love;
if He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son;
if He will make us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;
and if He will correct our faults and our follies
— He must afflict us!