Today I have the joy of introducing you to Britney Hamm as a new guest blogger. Britney and her husband lead a college ministry here in town. I met Britney through the biblical counseling training program we offer. I know you will be richly blessed by her writing! You can read more of it here.
As I meditated on the truth that affliction is a measure of His faithfulness and reflected on what we have been experiencing and what God has been doing recently, these thoughts on desperation, affliction, and sanctification came to mind…
There’s something about desperation that produces need, and need longing, and longing joy.
When you’re flat on your face, bereft and broken,
when your strength is failing and you feel you can’t move another inch,
when you’re at your wits end and have no idea what to do,
when sin is crouching at your door and you feel you cannot brace against another attack,
there in that place of desperation you become acutely aware that you have an immense need that you are not sufficient to meet, and that there is no one nor anything that can meet that need but God Himself…
In that place when you’re flattened in desperation and aware of your great need, you begin to long…to ache for His presence and His rescue.
To long for the only one who can pick up the broken pieces and comfort the grief.
To long for the only one who can pick you up and carry you where you need to go.
To long for the only one who can grant you wisdom and direction.
To long for the only one whose power is strong enough to overcome temptation.
There in that place of longing, as you draw close to your precious Savior and rest in His loving embrace, you begin to experience joy, the true joy of affliction.
And you realize that your affliction, whatever it may be, is a measure of His grace and faithfulness.
Because there in the affliction, in the desperation and need and longing, is where the painful, beautiful thing that is sanctification really happens, and that wonderful state of being called joy is found.
For where you once felt hopeless you have found your only hope, and you realize that is the only hope you will ever have…and what else can you do but give yourself to Him and beg Him to mold you more into His likeness, to strip you of every idol and unholiness, to secure you in His embrace forever, to use you to proclaim His glory, that your affliction and desperation might not be in vain?
As He molds you, as He strips you of every idol and unholiness, as He secures you in His embrace forever, as He uses you to proclaim His glory, you see so clearly that your affliction and desperation were not in vain but were in fact a measure of His faithfulness. And you see that He reached down to you when you were flat on your face, when you had nothing to offer. He picked you up, lifted your eyes to His, and brought you close to Himself.
Where your need and longing intersect, His grace intercedes, meeting that need and fulfilling that longing in ways more powerful and more satisfying than you could ever have hoped for or imagined.
What better purpose is there of affliction than to become more like the One who endured every form of suffering perfectly…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
And what better outcome of affliction than joy, true joy, the joy only found when your need and longing are met and realized fully in the person and work of Jesus?
Not only is affliction not in vain. Not only does it conform you to His image. It produces joy. What better measure of God’s faithfulness there is than to use the ugly, the broken, the painful, the hard to accomplish His purposes, to conform to His likeness, and to produce everlasting joy, I truly cannot say.
About Britney: When we’re not hanging out with college students or chasing our toddling daughter, you’ll most likely find us taking walks, debating and discussing theology and ecclesiology, cooking, drinking coffee (or tea), eating chocolate, going dancing, reading, swinging in the hammock, or chilling with each other, family, or friends.