Comfort vs. Affliction

“Sometimes you need to comfort the afflicted, but other times you need to afflict the comforted.”Dr. Greg Beale

True wisdom from God is knowing which one to impart. Job’s friends afflicted him when they should have been comforting him. I can think of many examples, though, when we comfort and should afflict. It is the classic co-dependent relationship – comforting when we should afflict. We comfort because it makes us feel better about the situation when we should afflict. Afflicting often means not saving oneself from oneself. It is not rescuing one from the consequence life afflicts on them.

Let me see if I can give an example. Your son left his homework at home and his teacher is not accepting late work. You notice it on the counter when you get home and so you quickly run it up to school so he won’t get a missing assignment. Good mom, right? What happens when next week he forgets to bring in his permission slip for the field trip and it is the last day to turn it in. (Keep in mind, he has had a week to turn it in.) You run home from whatever it is you were doing to get his slip so he won’t miss the trip. After all, can you imagine your child having to miss a field trip because of forgetfulness? What kind of parent would that make you – a good one. 🙂 Now, I am not talking about a once a year occurrence – we all forget things now and again. But we all have patterns of behavior that need to be stopped. Remember, wisdom is knowing when to help and when not to help.

I have watched friends mortgage their houses to pay off their child’s harmful habits. It didn’t start with a mortgage, but with saving them (comforting them) when they should have been afflicting. I am guilty because I am the mom who ran to school in her robe to bring in a permission slip. I am the mom who emails teachers consistently seeing if my son has missing work. I am a “fixer” and learning when I need to just stand back and let God “fix” it His own way.  As my dad says, I need to resign as manager of the universe. Oh,my intentions are good – my methods, not so hot.

It is often the very situations we try to “save” people from that God can work His greatest good.

I am not sure if you are like me or not but the greatest hurts in this life have been the very thing that has made my walk with God so precious. The very things I thought would kill me are what made me more like Jesus. Yes, I have a long way to go but the affliction that hurt the worst helped the most.

“Sometimes I am so broken and so desperate for hope that I need to meditate on a comforting passage in Scripture, but other times these dry bones need a rebuke so that they can dance once again.*”

Which are you today?

Broken and Desperate? Seek Him today for His dose of comfort.

Dry and Hard? Seek Him today for your dose of medicine.


2 thoughts on “Comfort vs. Affliction

    1. YES!!!!! Thank you. Thank you!!

      I read “Lament for a Son” after our son died in a car accident. It was awesome. Now, I am attempting to get our testimony down on paper. Any idea how to get the full article from Nicholas Wolterstorff?

      Any other suggestions for what you read while doing that research. I was also reading a book by Philip Yancey – I think it is just short compilations of his other books but he also adds to the theological wrestling 🙂

      “I know of only one way to answer the question Does God care? and for me it has proved decisive: Jesus is the answer. Jesus never attempted a philosophical answer to the problem of pain, yet he did give an existential answer. Although I cannot learn from him why a particular bad thing occurs, I can learn how God feels about it. Jesus gives God a face, and that face is streaked with tears. (It won’t let me BOLD this last statement and it needs to be BOLDED!!)
      “Whenever I read straight through the Bible, a huge difference between the Old and New Testaments comes to light. In the OT I can find many expressions of doubt and disappointment. Whole books – Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Job – center on the theme.
      Almost half of the psalms have a dark, brooding tone about them. In striking contrast, the New Testament Epistles contain little of this type of anguish. the problem of pain has surely not gone away: James 1, Romans 5 and 8, the entire book of 1 Peter, and much of Revelation deal with the subject in detail. Nevertheless, nowhere do I find the piercing question Does God Care? I see nothing resembling the accusation of Psalm 77: “Has God forgotten to be merciful?”
      The reason for the change, I believe, is that Jesus answered that question for the witnesses who wrote the Epistles. In Jesus, God presents a face. Anyone who wonders how God feels about suffering on this groaning planet need only look at that face. James, Peter, and John had followed Jesus long enough for his facial expressions to be permanently etched on their minds. By watching Jesus respond to a hemorrhaging woman, a grieving centurion, a widow’s dead son, an epileptic boy, an old blind man, they learned how God felt about suffering.”

      Which I think, in my humble opinion, wraps up both wrestlings with this verse “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” 1 Thess. 4:13.

      We grieve and lament, yes but with hope!

      Yes, I fully realize that the more I thought I was finding an answer to that “line” of lament and reverence. More questions popped up 🙂 but just like Job didn’t get all his questions answered, he realized “he uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
      Finally, Job concluded with my favorite verse “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, BUT NOW, my eye sees you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” AMEN, SISTER!

      Boy, do I love the wrestling!! I learn so much and love HIM more and more through it.

      Thanks for all your posts along these lines – I am stimulated and encouraged by them.

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