Lessons of Affliction
Job 34:31, 32
Surely it is meet to be said to God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:…

Affliction is a school, and its scholars are put to learn valuable lessons. Let us consider some of them.

I. PRAYER. The whole passage is concerned with prayer, with what it is meet to say unto God. Affliction does not teach all men to pray; some only learn despair and hardness of heart. But the designs of affliction is to lead us to God. It makes us feel our helplessness; it reveals to us the action of an unseen hand, and so reminds us of the presence of God; it shows us that earthly things will not satisfy; it gives us an opportunity to use and enjoy the Divine blessing of that peace which the world can neither give nor take away.

II. PATIENCE. "I have borne chastisement." Here is a reflection gathered from the contemplation of experience. It is a thought that comes from a soul enriched by what it has passed through. We have to let "patience have her perfect work." A visitor to the Royal Hospital for Incurables is struck with the spirit of peace that pervades it. What is outwardly a palace of pain is found to be in fact a home of peace. The sufferers have been drilled by suffering into patience; into more than patience, indeed, for a cheerfulness is seen among the hopeless sufferers. Long endurance has brought forth wonderful fruits which we scarcely see among the happy and heedless.

III. HUMILITY. The prayer reveals in every clause a spirit of humility. Pride is broken down completely. Prosperity was self-contained and self-satisfied. Its favours were too much accepted as rights and even as rewards. But affliction has dispelled the illusion. It may be that the trouble is not the punishment of sin; but still it proves the weakness and littleness of man, and it makes him see that he has no claim on the good things that he had been enjoying.

IV. CONTRITION. All men who suffer greatly are not great sinners; often the best men suffer most. This is made clear to us by the Book of Job, and Elihu is not so blind to it as the three friends. Still, every man sins, and therefore every man needs to learn contrition. Now, the school of affliction is designed to lead. us into this wholesome condition. Without comparing one person with another, without venturing to charge our neighbours with sin because they suffer, without supposing that there is any proportion between the guilt of sin and the amount of suffering, we may yet, each for himself, search our own hearts and make confession of our own sins in the still hour of sorrow.

V. AMENDMENT. The sufferer is to seek for guidance for the future. Where he is wrong and does not see it, he prays that God may reveal his error to him. Then he will abandon the mistakes and sins of the past. He resolves not to do iniquity any more. It is not every sufferer who so acts. Purgatory does not always purge. But the good man will try to turn his affliction to advantage, not only by heart-searchings into the past, but also by earnest resolves to live better for the future. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

WEB: "For has any said to God, 'I am guilty, but I will not offend any more.

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