“Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Thy Word” (Psalm 119:67 KJV)
In the Spring of 1996 I heard Chuck Swindoll say to over 40,000 Pastors gathered in Atlanta for the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference, “When God wants to use a man greatly, He must first hurt him very deeply.” A sobering silence fell upon the vast crowd of preachers. It was a moment in which we each realized the inescapable fact that pain and heartbreak are part of the road we travel to glory.
If we are indeed being led by the Holy Spirit then our way will be marked with the sign of Pain.
Remember that the whole purpose of this journey is that we be conformed into the likeness of Jesus. That means the Spirit of God must intentionally remove all those things in and about us that make us unchristlike.
A sculptor was asked how he was able to carve a magnificent likeness of a mighty stallion out of a block of marble. “It’s simple,” he replied. “I just chisel away everything that does not look like a mighty stallion.”
That’s what the Holy Spirit is doing with each of us. And at times the process can be quite painful. Nevertheless, we have this calm assurance, “All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Good will always come out of the pain and disappointment we experience during those times when God lets contrary things happen in our lives.
The Psalmist said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Thy Word.” And then he repeats himself a few verses later, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71). The Living Bible puts it this way, “The punishment you gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
The best thing indeed. Some unknown saint penned the following words for each one of us to own personally:
“I asked for strength that I might achieve. He made me weak that I might listen. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given grace that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I received nothing that I asked for, but all that I hoped for. My prayer was answered.”
David summed it up the best, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5). And I will give the Apostle Paul the final word on this subject. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
If you do not see the sign of Pain, you have made a wrong turn somewhere and are no longer being led by the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow we will look for the Fifth Sign. If you’ve made it this far, you’re gonna love this next sign!