Afflicted for Restoration

ancient sundial

This is a condensed version of  a sermon I delivered once in the past from 2 Kings 1-11.  We start off with Hezekiah being told he would die.  He cried out to the Lord and the Lord gave word that He would heal him and add fifteen years to his life.

We have all been afflicted at some point in our lives.  An affliction can come as sickness or it can come as some form of spiritual crisis.  In either case, the affliction is designed to get us to reflect on what our future holds.  In my past, I have always considered an affliction as a moment to seek the Lord on what it is that He has for me.  I see it as God’s way of telling me that it is time to step into the next phase of my destiny.  An affliction should always come with an assignment.  It should always come to tell you something about yourself that you were not aware of at first.

The Purpose of the Affliction

An affliction comes to drive you towards your purpose and destiny.  As you grow and develop in your spiritual journey with Christ, you should learn more and more that every time a trial comes into your life, it comes with purpose.  You should become so savvy with this that you are able to identify the purpose of the assignment and be willing to endure the trial until you have obtain whatever it is that God is trying to get to you.  Romans 8:28 says, and we know that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.  Do this: look back over your life and think about all the trials that you have faced and how they worked out for your benefit.  Another purpose of affliction is to remind you that God has a calling on your life.  Now understand that when I say calling, I am not talking about a preaching calling.  A calling can be many things.  I often say that people who are married are in a calling.  I believe it is a calling to be married.  Not all are called to marriage.  (Matthew 19:11)  Some are called to do great things in the marketplace as business men and women.  No matter what you are called to, that calling will not come without trials and tribulations.

We all know about Apostle Paul and the great things he did with the church after his conversion.  He had a mighty call from God.  However, look what Jesus had to say about Paul in Acts 9:15: This man (Paul) is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and the kings and before the people of Israel.  I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.  Now, if Paul must suffer, then so shall you.  Jesus says exactly why he must suffer and he must suffer because of Christ.

Some may say, how do I find comfort in knowing that I must suffer trials in this life?  1 Peter 4:13 says, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though    something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.  Further to this, James 1:2-3 says count it all joy when you are faced with various trials because these trials come to produce in your patience.  When patience has done it complete work, you will come out lacking no good thing.  Yes it is hard to understand that trials come to also give us joy.  Without faith, you won’t understand this.

How Will You Respond to the Affliction?

There is a way that you respond to an affliction.  You must respond to an affliction in a way that shows that you understand that God has purpose on your life.  You also must understand that the affliction comes to give you power and to add something to you that you did not have at first.  This is what James 1:2-3 is discussing.  The trial comes to teach you patience and once you have fully learned patience, you will come out of the struggle better equipped as a person.  Maturity breeds in a trial.  God gives you spiritual power when you go through trials.

You should also see that this trial that has come upon you has hidden power in it to bless you.  Jacob wrestled with an angel all night.  In Genesis 32:26, the angel said to angel, “Let me go!” But Jacob responded and said, “No, I will not let go until you bless me”.  You have to have this type of mindset that whenever issues come your way, you fight with all your might but you also let the issue you know that “hey, you have something for me and I will not let go of this struggle until I have obtained my blessing”  This type of response comes with tenacity and strength.  However, I do know that sometimes the trial has persisted for so long that we have become depleted and there just is not much of a fight left.

This is the moment when you should know that you are on your brink of breakthrough.  Whenever a trial has gotten you so depleted that you feel like giving up, you must always remember that there is a destination that is far greater than the trial.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 gives us a gentle reminder about the degradation that trials can bring onto us.  It says, Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.   Let us stop right there.  That weight mean there is some density and girth to the glory that is to come.  So imagine, if what you are dealing with now feels weighty, and God is saying that the weight of what you are dealing with now does not compare to the weight of the glory that shall be revealed later, how wonderful would that be.  In Verse 18, Paul reminds us, While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the thing s which are not seen.  The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  Let me share a testimony with you, I remember, when I was laid off from a job and my roommate at the time asked me some questions and I remember responding with this:  “The worst thing that can happen to me on this earth is I die, and even in death, I am at peace and I get to see Jesus”  What that said was that I put my hope and my faith in what is eternal and I understand that anything that can happen to me on earth is only but for a moment.  The worst thing that can happen to me is death but even in death, because I believe in Jesus, I shall see him.  You have to know with all of your knowing that no matter how bad it is, there is always better on the other side of it all.  Even if death is what you’re dealing with, in Jesus, there is still better.

What is My Sign That I Have Been Delivered?

This is the part of the sermon that I loved the most.  Hezekiah asked Isaiah, what will be my sight that the Lord will heal me?  Isaiah said, you shall know the sign when you see the clock begin to count backwards when it should count forward.  How dynamic of a God we serve that he will show you a sign of supernatural strength to remind you that he will do exactly what he said he will do.  One time, I had a complete set of glasses, 8 tall and 8 short.  I was washing dishes and I broke one of the tall one.  I was left with 7 tall and 8 short.  My roommate at the time was there to witness.  Several months later, a day after I was ordained, I was washing dishes again.  I was drying off glasses and as I was placing them in the cabinet, I saw, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…8 tall Glasses!!!  I immediately heard the Holy Spirit say, “This is my sign to you that I am going to do just what I promised for you”.  I cried.

I can imagine this is how Hezekiah felt when he saw that sundial going backwards instead of forward.  You will know the sign.  If you have cancer, your sign will be cancer cells drying up.  If you have high blood pressure, the sign will be the blood pressure lowering.  There is a changing of the guards.  Some things that you thought you would never be set free from; your day of freedom will come.  The hands of time are turning backwards for you.   Some of you are hung up on what has been, but He is turning it all around for your benefit.  When the affliction comes know that it has purpose.  Be bold enough to tell the assignment not to leave until it has done what it was allowed to do in your life.

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