Godly Affliction

by David J. Stewart

Ecclesiastes 7:3, “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”

       The world is backwards on reality. We hear so many commercials suggesting for people to go seek help (for a charge of course) if one feels sad, tired, depressed, anxious, stressed, etc.  This would describe the majority of the population. 

Dr. Fat Bottom and Professor Know-it-all with their PhD's (i.e., post hole digger) seem to have all the solutions; but they are fools (Romans 1:22). 

However, this is not good advice for the Christian. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…", Psalm 1:1. We need Godly counsel.

The Bible says, "Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness", James 4:9. This is the opposite of what nearly all psychologist's and psychiatrist's will tell you. The word "afflicted" means "to realize one's own misery." In sharp contrast to the sinfully proud and arrogant attitude of the wicked, God wants the righteous to be humble and meek.

James 4:8 speaks of drawing nigh to God. There is no room for sinful pride or self-righteousness at Jesus feet. If you want to be nearer to God, then you need to "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up", James 4:10. Search your heart.

The root cause of our troubles in society today is SIN! Sin is the breaking of God's commandments. Notice that the center letter of the word “sin” is “I.” When we sin, we are serving self and not God.

God commands the believer in James 4:9 to be afflicted and mourn. The world is too busy having fun to “be afflicted.” Jesus said in John 16:20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” The world rejoices in their sinful living because they don't care about God nor His Word. As genuine Christians, we care about doing right and have the Holy Spirit to convict us (Romans 8:9). The unsaved don't care about what God thinks.

Notice that the word “afflicted” also appears in James 5:13, Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. This is NOT the same meaning. “Afflicted” in James 5:13 means “to endure hardship.” Hence, we are supposed to pray while going through hard times in life. We are relying upon the Lord through prayer. We do not turn to the Devil's crowd for advice, we turn to God's Holy Word and to fervent prayer. We do not turn to liquor or drugs for comfort, but to the compassionate Savior Who loves us so. 

“Afflicted” in James 4:9 means something entirely different. It means “to realize one's own misery.” James is speaking about having a closer walk with God. We do this by “drawing nearer.” 

By being "afflicted," James means that we need to stop and consider who we are ... woefully sinners in need of God's help. We need to look at the world around us and realize what is happening. The world is going to hell!!! “Afflicted” means that we are driven to our knees in sorrow because of the billions of souls that are headed for hell-fire and damnation. It means that we are soul-conscious. Even when we are enjoying life, there is a sadness and a call to duty in our heart to win souls to Christ. “Sadness” because so many are going to burn in Hell, “duty” because we are commanded to preach the Gospel to others.  

Many foolish neo-evangelical believers today think they are fellowshipping with God, when in reality they are very far from God. They are NOT "afflicted" by sin and the reality of Hell. They are playing church. Revelation 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

They do not have a concern for lost souls. Oh sure, they'll talk the talk; but they do not walk the walk. They laugh at the idea that the King James Bible is God's preserved inerrant Word. They laugh at the idea of separating from other backslidden believers. They make light of doctrine and have no quarrel with John MacArthur's heresy on the blood. 

They have no problem with Billy Graham saying, “Pope John Paul II has been the moral voice of the 20th century.” They have no problem with Hollywood movies and the Satanic liquor traffic in this nation. They are dead-beat church-goers, Christian bums, scornful of those who are on the front lines going soul-winning. These believers have no desire to walk closely with Jesus Christ. They learn to be manipulative and pharisaical (hypocritical). Sadly, many of them are ministers. 

Are you afflicted friend over the condition of the world today? Is it nothing to you that 40,000 children are starving every day? Is it nothing to you that 156,000 people die every day in this world, the large majority of them plunging into the depths of hell-fire and torment (Matthew 7:14). Is it nothing to you that Catholicism (the cult of Mary Worship) has a membership of over 1,000,000,000 people? Is it nothing to you that 1,000,000,000 Muslims do NOT believe Jesus ever died on a cross? Is it nothing to you that well-paid Hollywood men and women are committing adultery and fornication on the TV screen? Is it nothing to you that America has become a sex-perverted nation? 

Is it nothing to you that Ozzy Osbourne and Harry Potter are idolized by hundreds of millions of people? Is it nothing to you that 16,000 people died in 2001 from alcohol caused accidents? Is it nothing to you that 1,000,000 babies are murdered each year in this nation through abortions? Do you realize the misery of sin today? If you truly want to be closer to God friend, then you must be "afflicted" about sin. Do you realize the misery of sin? Do you realize your wicked heart? If not, make it right with God now. 

I find it very difficult to be happy as a Christian knowing that most of the people in this world are going to burn in Hell for all eternity (Matthew 7:13-14). I realize that they are making their own decisions, but I am still sad that they are all going to Hell. I honestly don't believe more than one-percent of the total population is saved. There are an estimated 1,300,000,000 Islamic Muslims who deny that Jesus is the Son of God. According to 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9 they are all going straight to Hell when they die. That depressed me very much. I cannot rejoice and enjoy this earthly life knowing such a horrible eternal fate awaits so many people. I love people and don't want to see anything bad happen to anyone. Hell is such a sad thought. To think, even after a trillion years, eternity won't even have begun. Muslims don't believe Jesus died on a cross. The Bible calls them liars in 1st John 2:22.

God tells us to be afflicted and mourn, and no wonder, for so many people have never received the Lord Jesus as the Christ. Do you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Who came into the world from the Father to save us from our sins? I do. I love Jesus and have trusted Him as my personal Savior, Who has forgiven my sins and is preparing a place for me in Heaven (John 14:1-3). All my eternal hope is in Jesus Christ, for there is no other name by which men can be saved (Acts 4:10-12). Our faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5). We are saved solely by Christ's righteousness (Romans 10:3-4); and not by any righteousness of our own, and a good thing, because we have none to offer (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is precious.