by C. Parker Thomas

Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.”

There are many words in the Old and New Testaments that refer to various types of trouble in this world that man has to go through. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “... In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Job 14:1 says, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”

It is significant that the words, afflictions, trouble, tribulation, etc., often comes from one and the same word in the Greek and Hebrew texts. For example, the Hebrew word oni (pronounced on-ee), often translated affliction in the Old Testament, means depression, misery, trouble.

The most prominent Greek word, thlipsis, used for affliction in the New Testament, means pressure, afflicted, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble, etc.

The cause of affliction can be mental or physical. It can be imaginary or real or a combination of the two. Satan will use things imagined and real to afflict and oppress us. The end result is the same regardless of how and where it originates. What bothers one person may not bother another.

Affliction can be the result of breaking the laws of God, nature or man. If we abuse our minds or bodies, knowingly or ignorantly, we will in time suffer for it. Satan also takes advantage of ignorance to delude and oppress us. This is why it is so necessary to know the truth that make us free. John 8:31-32.

Stressful occupations or situations can bring afflictions upon us. This is why it is necessary to find that place of occupation that divine wisdom has ordained for us. Paul often spoke of affliction encountered in the work of the ministry. II Cor.2:4, 8:2, Phil. 1:16; I Thess.1:6 and I Thess. 3:7. In II Tim. 1:8 he speaks of the afflictions of the gospel.

In I Peter 5:8-9, Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

The greatest source of affliction and oppression is demon power. Satan especially wants to destroy those identified with Christ. Although our great sovereign God is over all and nothing takes place without his permissive will, Satan and his evil host of demonic spirits are agents of hatred and cruelty that work unceasingly to afflict, oppress and destroy. Although affliction is the result of many factors Satan and his demonic host are directly or indirectly involved.

When afflicted or oppressed, Satan uses many tactics to add to your burden and keep you in the grip of affliction. When you are afflicted Satan will tell you that you are being punished for your sins. He will go back into your life and pull out every skeleton he can condemn you with. He will condemn you with things that you may have confessed and have been cleansed from. We must know how to answer Satan when he falsely accuses us. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

He knows that when you are acutely depressed your mind is open to his negative suggestions.

Perhaps Satan’s most common and successful tactic is to accuse or blame someone else for your trouble. He will also tell you that if you were rid of this person or situation your problems would cease. James 3:14-15 tell you where these negative and tormenting thoughts come from. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”

The word devilish in verse 15 is actually demonic. It simply means the depressing thoughts that you have are being injected into your mind by demons. You are paying more attention to devils than you are to God (word). II Tim. 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Another tactic of Satan is to use the Bible against you in the wrong way. When you are in the throes of depression Satan will use the law to further condemn you. He knows far better than we do that sin has no strength apart from the law. I Cor. 15:56. Only a knowledge of the word will enable us to resist such attacks. Gal. 3:11.

All of these tactics are cleverly designed to destroy your faith and keep you from praying or looking to God. When you try to pray, Satan will tell you there is no use, that God will not hear you. Above all things Satan does not want you to pray or believe the word that would minister faith and hope to you.

You can also expect some Job’s comforters to be around who know why you are being punished. With great show of fleshly wisdom and philosophical sayings they will only add to your burden of affliction.

Everyone suffers from some type of affliction at times. Aside from normal world conditions, God’s people have always had to contend with severe trial and opposition because of their faith. Peter speaks of the same afflictions being accomplished in our brethren that are in the world. I Peter 5:9.

Because of the increasing stress in the world system this condition is growing worse.

There is a reason why heart attacks are the number one killer in our country today. This, no doubt, is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that men’s hearts would be failing them for fear and looking after those things coming on the earth. Luke 21:26.

A few months ago I read a syndicated news article which told of the alarming increase in suicides among children and teenagers. Certainly that is symptomatic of an alarming condition which we face in a world of growing complexities over which we have no control.

It is indeed sad when children and young people, usually so vital and full of hope, find life so miserable and futile that they take their own life. This is why more people are on tranquilizers than ever before in the history of medicine. Being separated from the life and peace of God, they are turning to alcohol and drugs to find relief. At the root of many of our social problems such as child abuse, wife beating, infidelity, separation and divorce, you will find miserable, unhappy frustrated people that can’t cope with a life of stress.

The chief characteristic of man’s separation from God is restlessness. With restlessness and misery gnawing away at his vitals he is ever looking and seeking for rest and peace he doesn’t have. Some make money their God thinking that riches will give them the peace and security their heart cries out for.

A few years ago I spent a day with a man who had made a million dollars in a short period of time by buying and selling real estate. He told me personally that he couldn’t spend the $110,000.00 yearly interest he was receiving on mortgages he held. Although he owned several thousand acres of land in addition to this, he was traversing the state looking for more property to buy and sell.

Did this success in making money give him the peace and security he longed for? Actually he was one of the most lonely and miserable men I have ever met. He couldn’t be still or relax. Literally driven, all he could do was think and look for more land to buy and sell. I fear that Paul’s words to Timothy were being fulfilled in this case. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” I Tim. 6:9.

The root of all the trouble in the world is restless man out of touch with God. Prodded by Satan he is ever looking and searching for an earthly utopia that doesn’t exist. In an effort to obtain his goal he will rob, kill and destroy everyone and everything that gets in his way. Actually it is this condition in man that is the cause of all inward strife and turmoil. All the great wars of world history that have resulted in so much death, suffering and sorrow are the result of man being out of touch with his maker. Isaiah 57:20- 21 says, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”

Although this is true of the wicked, God has provided peace and rest for his people through his son, Jesus Christ. The Lord told Moses, “... My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Exodus 33:14.

Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt. 11:28-29.

However, many of God’s people find themselves in stressful situations just as miserable and unhappy as people of the world. This is often because they want to live their own lives without being true disciples of Jesus Christ. They may succeed in obtaining this earth’s wealth and honor among men but they lose something far more precious than fame and fortune. Peace of mind and the joy of the Lord are worth more than the whole world.

In this hour of increasing trouble, sorrow and frustration when the demonic forces are mounting an all-out attack against all nations and segments of society, man needs to know something about the source of his trouble.

Although our great sovereign God is permitting these things, we still need to know what is taking place and how to cope with it. Significantly there are many things that are accomplished in our lives through trial and suffering that cannot be done any other way.

This is a principle that has applied to man since he was driven from the Garden of Eden and applies more so today. In connection with the end of this age Daniel was told by the angel, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Dan. 12:10.

Although the cause of affliction and human suffering is varied, we have some answers from God’s word that gives us some specifics we need to understand.

According to Jesus, Job, Paul, Peter, David and others it is simply part of this life and the result of the curse. The fall of man left him with a depraved nature that has no capacity for God or righteousness. This is the cause of his trouble. Job 14:1, Acts 20:23, I Peter 5:8-9, Psalms 34:19 and John 16:33.

The Bible is a divine record of the joys, the sorrows, the afflictions, the persecutions, the faith and the triumph of God’s people. Through all these things God has worked to purify, perfect, teach and bless his people.

Although it is a groaning creation (Rom.8:18-23) awaiting that glorious day of deliverance, we can rejoice even now in the knowledge that “... our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” II Cor. 4:17.

Beyond doubt some afflictions are the result of willful or ignorant disobedience to laws that were ordained by God for our good. These laws may be natural, spiritual, civil or otherwise. Honor and obedience to these laws brings the blessing promised to us by their author. Continued disobedience will bring a harvest of trouble, sorrow, and death. According to Galatians 6:7-9, we reap what we sow, here and in eternity to come. David was so acquainted with the principle of affliction until he gives us a storehouse of knowledge on the subject in the Psalms. Psalms 107:17 says, “Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.”

David’s prayer in Psalms 51 is the story of a man greatly afflicted because of his sin. Although his sorrow and distress were almost unbearable he knew God’s Judgments were right and that God had, in faithfulness, afflicted him. Psalms 119:75. No doubt it was such faith as this that caused David to be looked upon as a man after God’s own heart. I Sam. 13:14.

Job’s suffering and affliction cannot be attributed to sin as in the case of David. The Lord called him “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” He was such an example of righteousness until the Lord pointed him out to Satan by saying, “... there is none like him in the earth ...” Job 1:8.

Of course Satan hated Job for his righteousness and he challenged the Lord to let him afflict him so he could prove that Job was serving God for selfish purposes. In this case Job became a spectacle unto angels and men proving that God had a man that would praise and glorify him in spite of intense sufferings.

After the loss of his herds, his flocks, his servants and the death of his children, Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly. His answer to all this disaster was “... naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21-22.

After days of intense suffering with boils inflicted by Satan, Job finally cursed his day and said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.” Job 3:1-2.

Job’s experience is a good example of acute depression when the afflicted one feels totally abandoned by his God.

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:8- 10.

However, it was Job’s faith, even the faith that overcomes the world (I John 5:4-5) that enabled him to say, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10.

Job’s faith was the same faith that Abraham had that was “counted unto to him for righteousness.” Rom.5:3. In spite of Job’s righteousness when finally confronted by the Lord, his mouth was shut as he cried out, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” Job 40:4.

All of this goes to show us that the corruption of the natural man would never let him live in the presence of a holy God. Isaiah’s reaction to his vision of the Lord was very similar to Job’s. After seeing the Lord upon a throne high and lifted up, Isaiah cried out, “... woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5.

As good a man as Job was his suffering changed his concept of God and himself and brought him into a new dimension of humility and spiritual reality. This is why he said what he did in Job 42:2-6. “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

We too need to be careful lest we grow bitter in our afflictions thinking that we do not deserve such a fate. God may be bringing us into a new dimension of spiritual reality. From this example and others we can understand why the corruption of the Adam nature make it necessary for the Lord to deliver us “unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” II Cor. 4:11.

Lam. 3:33 says, “For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.”

God is not a sadist. It is not his nature or desire to afflict or cause men to suffer. To have an orderly, harmonious creation, including the universe, God’s plan in the beginning was inspired by infinite wisdom. Even as man must have a plan to build a house, a dam, an airplane, a computer, a skyscraper or a great bridge, God himself had a plan in the beginning.

This plan was drawn with infinite care and wisdom. The principles embodied in this plan took into consideration time and eternity. Nothing was left out or overlooked. Celestial beings and terrestrial beings, things visible and things invisible were all included. Because of the complexity of this vast and eternal plan, principles, guidelines or laws were decreed and set in motion.

Strange as it may seem these principles or laws, both positive and negative, are implemented by God through his Son Jesus Christ, man, angels and devils. In the original creation all things were good and holy. But God gave them liberty (or latitude) to serve him or rebel. Even Satan and his demonic hosts have certain powers, liberties and rights that will not be taken away from them until their day is over and they are cast into the lake of fire.

In the meantime regardless of our afflictions of mind and body, all things are working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28. It is through affliction and suffering that we draw nigh to God and are taught many things we could not learn otherwise.

However, let’s ever remember that God does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. God would have us to know and overcome the adverse forces of evil and walk in harmony with his eternal kingdom.

The believer and the unbeliever alike experience varying degrees of affliction at times. However, there is a difference in their understanding and reaction to suffering whether it be mental or physical. Matt. 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

This is the essential difference between the believer and the unbeliever. Like Moses, the believer will look beyond his adversity and see him who is invisible. Heb.11:27. Afflictions will cause the believer to turn and seek the Lord. Even though he may not have all the answers to his affliction, he is able to see God in his suffering and turn to him for help. David said, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” Psalms 18:6.

David often found himself in the place of distress and affliction. This is why he said, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2.

In the case of an unbeliever, affliction or trouble causes him to consult his doctor or psychiatrist. Some will go to a fortune teller or consult their astrology counsellor. Many turn to drugs or drink trying to escape from their affliction. In some cases of acute depression without faith or hope in God some commit suicide.

Like never before I believe God is working with and preparing his little remnant for the end of the age. Beyond doubt he is teaching us the real purpose behind the afflictions of the righteous. It is our hope and prayer that these scattered thoughts will be a ray of light to some who are surrounded by the darkness of affliction and mental oppression.

David said in Psalms 119:75, “I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”

Such sayings as this are another reason David was called a man after God’s own heart. Surely it takes faith to accept God’s judgments as being right and to recognize that our afflictions are the result of his faithfulness. This is truly humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God that he might exalt us in due time. I Peter 5:6.

When we are afflicted or suffering acute mental depression, Satan will do everything in his power to make you doubt God’s love and concern for you. Satan, the accuser (Rev. 12:10), has always worked at accusing man to man, God to man and man to God. Although affliction or severe mental depression will try our faith like nothing else, the Lord assures us through the prophet Isaiah that he will comfort and have mercy upon his afflicted.

Let’s note the Lord’s word to us in Isaiah 49:13-16. “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

“But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands: thy walls are continually before me.”

Since God does not afflict willingly there is an infinitely wise purpose in our suffering.

In Psalm 119:71 David says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

This is going a step farther in David’s understanding and appreciation of affliction. By understanding God’s purpose in his affliction David could now say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes.”

Learning God’s statutes or word is of vital importance to the child of God. If we have the seed of faith in our hearts affliction will drive us to God’s word for strength and comfort. No longer will we read God’s word casually but we will search it with all diligence looking for that word of faith and hope that will help us in our distress.

Help and comfort from the scriptures will also help us to better appreciate what Jesus meant when he said, “... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4.

Even as our physical lives are nurtured and sustained by good food our inner man is nurtured by the living word of God. God’s word is more than a means of expression or vehicle for thought. Jesus said, “... the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63.

In Psalm 119:67, David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.”

Too much of our apprehension of truth or God’s word is unproven theory. It is not something we practice or live by. I can tell you from personal experience it is much easier to tell others how it ought to be done than it is to practice it yourself. Affliction and suffering will teach us the fear of the Lord and purify and perfect us like nothing else. According to I Peter 1:2, we are purified through obedience to the truth.

In Isaiah 48:10 the Lord says, “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

No doubt this is what Peter had in mind when he spoke of the trial of our faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. I Peter 1:7.

One of the most needed virtues in a human being is patience. By nature we have none. The temper tantrums of small children and even infants are symptomatic of the whole human race. Patience has to be worked in us by the grace of God, usually through suffering. This is actually what James is talking about in James 1:2-7. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.”

Too many of God’s children are like the waves of the sea driven with wind and tossed to and fro. (See also Eph. 4:14).

Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed the principle of obedience through suffering. Heb. 5:8-9 says, “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

If this were true of our Lord Jesus Christ, how much more is it necessary for us?

Obedience is necessary if we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Like the branches that bear fruit it is necessary for God to purge us through affliction that we might bring forth more fruit. John 15:2. This purging, affliction or chastening as it is called by Paul, is most grievous to those experiencing it. But in process of time it will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb. 12:5-11.

Beyond doubt the road to reigning with Christ and bearing fruit is through suffering. This is why Paul said in II Tim. 2:10-12, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”

Suffering teaches and better fits us as vessels of the Lord to help others. As said elsewhere, it’s one thing to know these things by theory and another to experience them personally. Suffering causes us to be sensitive and sympathetic toward others who are suffering.

The first step on the road to deliverance when one is afflicted is prayer. Prayer is simply communication with God who understands and loves you more than all other beings in the universe. James 5:13 says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.”

Just ordinary depression or anxiety will go when we have a good season of prayer. This no doubt is what Paul meant in Phil. 4:6-7 where he said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Closer attention to such scriptures as these might enable us to avoid acute depression and intense suffering that could take weeks or even months to overcome.

However there is deliverance from the horrible pit of acute depression and affliction if we will utterly cast ourselves upon the Lord. Although the heavens may seem silent for a long time when you first begin to seek God, HE IS LISTENING. Our problem is not that God is not listening but that he is simply waiting on us to reach the place where we can hear him. This can be our most trying time. Like a terrible nightmare that seems to have no end, we can reach such a place of utter despair and desolation until, like Job, we will curse the day we were born.

Above all things we must not give up. The Lord is faithful and will come to our rescue when his purpose has been accomplished in us. Rather than give up we must intensify our prayer and supplication to him. It would be good if you could find grace to give him praise and glory.

However the spirit of mourning and depression may be so great upon you until you can’t praise God. Your mind is so completely occupied with your own misery you can’t concentrate on anything else. At this point you must continue to look to the Lord letting him know that he is your only hope. Above all don’t forget Heb. 4:15 which says that he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

Maintaining this position will bring you into a place of brokenness and contrition. This brokenness will be a humbling experience. It will cause you to search your heart and change your attitude about many things. It will enable you to forgive people and even pray for your enemies. David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17.

Although you are broken before the Lord you are still miserable and wretched because you have no faith to overcome your condition or fight the adversary. At this point you may not even recognize that much of your affliction is Satanic oppression. Remember that Satan takes things imagined and real to afflict and oppress us. In cases of severe or acute depression you may be so affected in your mind until you cannot concentrate or do anything that requires mental effort.

However in spite of your grief and torment of mind you can look to the Lord until help comes. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

When in the throes of such mental anguish or affliction it is difficult to look to the Lord. Your mind has occupied itself so long with your misery and trouble until it is with great effort you begin to change this pattern.

Actually your help will come from the Lord as you begin to search the scriptures and meditate upon his eternal promises. In the final analysis this is one of God’s great purposes in drawing you to himself through your affliction.

During a time of trial or affliction your confession is very important. Remember the power of life and death is in the tongue. Everything is against a positive confession when you are acutely depressed. Your flesh, the devil and the world are all against you. You must think and confess the positive promises of God’s word. When the devil tells you that there is no use or that you can’t, you must say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:13.

David constantly went to the word for help in time of trouble. He fully realized that God’s help was on the basis of what was written. In Psalm 119:107 David said, “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.”

In Psalm 119:49 David said, “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou has caused me to hope.”

In this Psalm David is not asking the Lord to remember him but to remember His word upon which he had caused him to hope. David’s appeal to the Lord here was on the basis of the word he had put his hope in. David realized that God could not deny His word.

Psalm 105:8-10 says, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And to Israel for an everlasting covenant.”

God actually ministered strength and comfort to David through the word. As already stated, God’s word is not just a vehicle that conveys thought. The New Testament from 26 Translations by Zondervan says that the word of God is living and active. It is full of life and power. The consensus of opinion by the various translators is that God’s word is a manifestation of himself in virtue, life, energy and power. It is active, creative and effectual.

God has ordained to reach our minds, our bodies and our entire being through his word. Even as electrical power must have a conductor to transmit that power through, God’s life and power is transmitted to us through his word.

Because of this principle David said in Psalm 119:50, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.”

It will be noted from David’s saying above that the word was a life giving force that comforted and quickened, or imparted, life to him.

David didn’t just appreciate the word as wise or philosophical sayings but he realized it was his salvation in his day of trouble. This is why he said in Psalm 119: 92-93, “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.”

How true this saying of David is! Surely we would all perish in our affliction if we did not have God’s word to quicken and comfort us. We would be like a drowning man without a life jacket. This is why it is vital that you turn to God’s word in your time of affliction.

Read it, meditate upon it, quote it to yourself, to the devil and above all, to the Lord. As you pray and continue to seek God, stand on his word, thank God for it, claim its promises and praise God for the answer.

Let’s remember, “... man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matt. 4:4.

Daniel 12:10 says, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

According to this scripture, the wise will understand and respond by submitting themselves to the purifying process that tries them and makes them white. At the same time the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand.

The purifying process of affliction preceding the end of the gospel dispensation is upon us. Like the priests that led the way and carried the ark of the covenant down into Jordan, the ministry that God uses to lead his people in these last days must go first. They must be the first in and the last out.

I believe Ezekiel 20:33-38 is in process of being fulfilled. Verse 33 says, “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you.”

According to this verse, God is going to rule over his people. For too long we have been allowed to drift along more or less serving God when it was convenient for us. With a stretched out arm with fury poured out the Lord is going to change this. Let’s not doubt for a moment that God can bring us to our knees.

I believe the Lord has been separating an elect remnant from the common multitude of professing Christians and bringing them into a wilderness of the people where he has been pleading with them face to face. Through the word by the Holy Spirit, God has been speaking to us to prepare us for a future crossing.

In the same manner that God dealt with Israel in the wilderness of the land of Egypt before taking them across Jordan into the promised land, he is now dealing with his people for the greatest crossing of all time. This crossing will be from time to eternity at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to Ezekiel 20:37, this remnant will pass under the rod and into the bond of the covenant. This rod symbolizes God’s power and authority. Coming under the rod is submission or surrender to God and his authority.

This coming under divine authority is a prelude to coming into the bond of the covenant. Many people want the power and blessings of God’s eternal covenant without surrendering their lives. They want to rule but not be ruled over.

As Joshua said to the people before the crossing of Jordan, “... sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5.

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