December 14, 2013 by Stacy McDonald
“Afflictions do us good likewise, as they make us more acquainted with what is in our own hearts and thereby promote humiliation and self-abasement. There are abominations which, like nests of vipers, lie so quietly within, that we hardly suspect they are there till the rod of affliction rouses them; then they hiss and show their venom. This discovery is indeed very distressing; yet till, it is made, we are prone to think ourselves much less vile than we really are, and cannot so heartily abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes.” – John Newton
I love this quote, but I would replace the word “self-abasement” with repentance. Trials and afflictions, and the way we respond to them, help us to see sin in ourselves that may have otherwise gone unnoticed or been ignored.
It stirs us up in much the same way a cardiovascular “stress test” does when a doctor is looking for physical trouble in our heart. Affliction is like a spiritual stress test, only it’s more than just a test…because if we press into the pain, God purges our sin and changes us – it literally makes us stronger in the end.
What I’ve found personally is that if I press into the pain and not fight it (think child birth) it makes me stronger, and I see fruit in my life. But when I run from the pain, I’m more apt to become disillusioned and bitter. Like my midwife used to say, “Don’t waste the pain.”