A friend shared this scripture with me during my cold, dark January:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2)
Divers=”many” Temptations in the Greek translation=”afflictions”
Count it all “joy” when you’ve fallen upon many afflictions????
Some afflictions are self-created, some are created by the free agency and choices of others, and some just plain HAPPEN.
The ones that just plain happen hold great potential to catapult us into spiritual maturity. Why? Because they are not created by the arm of flesh, they are generated as divine tutorials under the omniscient micromanagement of heaven. Created exclusively – brilliantly – as the EXACT life lesson(s) we need for our ultimate “joy.”
These seasons of affliction become Sacred Stations when we receive the intended lesson without resistance.
The Sacred Station of affliction is not prettily packaged. In fact, it can manifest as downright ugliness. It seems to unearth our greatest weaknesses as a grand gesture that they be healed, cleansed. Or as a wise friend states, “To burn the dross right out of us.”
It may not seem Sacred or spiritual to be brought to your knees, experiencing a range of uncomfortable and painful emotions. Crying to the heavens, pleading for deliverance, asking why you’ve been abandoned…
It may not seem Sacred or spiritual to be human. But it is what it is. And we are who we are.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. (Psalms 34:17-19)
I love that this scripture promises afflictions to those who are righteous. I don’t love the fact that the righteous get hit with them (!), I just love knowing that having “many afflictions” is not a reflection of one’s personal unworthiness. What we allow doing our moments of humanness, these Stations of affliction, determines whether we ascend or descend. Allowing yourself to be emotionally and spiritually vulnerable through a “broken heart,” and allowing yourself to recognize your utter powerlessness and need for a Savior through a “contrite spirit” is the catalyst for deliverance.
Jeffrey R. Holland said,
“You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.”
He goes on to expound on how such Stations can become a “temple-prison” experience, the place where you are finally – finally – at a place where the divine can speak and work with you. Is that not Sacred?
Count it all joy.