Why does God afflict us?
(Ashton Oxenden, "The Blessings and Trials of Sickness" 1863)
"Affliction does not come forth from the dust, neither does trouble spring forth out of the ground!" Job 5:6
"Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good." Deuteronomy 8:5
"I know, O Lord, that Your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness You have afflicted me!" Psalm 119:75
"As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline!" Revelation 3:19
"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Hebrews 12:6
"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9
Dear Reader, I have come into your sick-room, as it were, and wish to tell you a few things for your comfort and profit.
God has seen fit to stop you in the midst of your busy life, and to lay you aside for a while. It is not by chance that His afflicting hand has fallen upon you. It is not at random that He has chastened you. It may seem to be a mere accident that you are afflicted, and not another. But no; God has done it purposely!
Learn this then — that your present sickness or affliction is from God. It is His doing. He it is, who has brought this present chastisement upon you. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father's ordering, and He prizes His redeemed children more than many sparrows.
Sickness usually comes as a messenger of divine love — it is sent to be a blessing, and may be made, by God's grace, a very great blessing to the soul. God afflicts His children because He desires to do them some great good.
The gardener cuts and prunes his tree, to make it grow better, and bear more precious fruit. In the same way, God often uses His sharp knife for some gracious purpose.
The wise and loving father thwarts his child, and sometimes scourges it, for its good. Just so, God uses His chastening rod for the very same reason.
The skillful physician prescribes nauseous medicines to restore his patient's health. In the same way, God makes us take His bitter medicines, though at the time they are very distasteful to us.
Why does God afflict us?
Because He loves us, and wishes to make us holy as He is holy, and happy as He is happy. For, as it has been well said, "Fiery trials make golden Christians!" God had one Son without sin — but He never had any son without sorrow.
God chastens purposely and lovingly. Affliction comes from Him; and He afflicts, not as a stern Judge, but as a Father and a Friend.
Before then you go a step further, ask God to convince you of this precious truth: "It is my Father who corrects me — even He who loves me! I will receive this chastisement then from Him, and remember that it is a loving hand that smites. I will kiss the very rod that scourges me. Father, not my will, but may Your will be done!"
A true Christian will receive affliction with submission. It is his Father's doing; and therefore he quietly submits. It comes from Him, and must therefore be well. He feels that there is a needs-be for it. What a sweet pillow is this, on which to rest his weary head!
"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28