Where there was once indifference to the Word’s directives, with the affliction is potential for fixation on its truth like never before.
Psalms 119:67 (NIV)
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
Psalms 119:71 (NIV)
71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)A
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
That the Word is effective to produce the best results and an abundance of harvest is without question. It’s a reality that is faithful without variance. The only way it can fail is if there is no response, no reaction to its directives. For this to take place there will either be a lack of exposure to its truths or an assumption that another way is just as valid - pride.
As a father, I’ve had multiple opportunities to assemble birthday and Christmas gifts. They have come in varying degrees of complexity. From the obviously simple to the elaborately involved with numerous parts, all of the projects have come with an instruction manual. Steps have been provided that, if carefully followed, will result in completion of the project in the least amount of time and challenges. Also, accompanying each assembly, though, has been a temptation to just dive in without even considering the encumbering and mundane process of following the instructions. After all, my way of getting all these parts to look like the picture on the box should be just as good as those details that were obviously composed for those of a lesser competence than myself. There was an incredibly valuable lesson learned, however, with each time succumbing to that temptation resulted in quite the opposite of a fully assembled toy. Those remaining parts still on the floor would require a complete disassembly in order to include a necessary part that wasn’t so obvious to what I had previously thought were my elevated assembly skills. What made this experience of affliction so affective for me was that I’ve developed a very high regard for the importance of every step provided in assembly instructions. I’ve completely lost the need to prove how well I can get by without them. Without the experience of the failure of my pride, though, unnecessary reassembly might yet be in my future. From now on those pesky diagrams are my best friends.
The word “afflicted” that is used in these verses is not in reference to some outside force that has unfairly inflicted a hardship. Rather, it has to do with the unfavorable results of venturing independently from the way provided in the Word. So often the difficulties encountered that might even be seen as an attack from the enemy are really the result of a failure to follow our instruction manual. Any time there is diving into life apart from the way provided for us by the Father, there is a high probability of leaving out a part or step that makes for failed assembly.
What is so encouraging about these references to “afflictions” (or pride failures), however, is that the result can be incredibly positive. Instead of being devastated by a notion of victimhood and an identity of failure, there can be a heightened appreciation for the instruction manual. For every adherence going forward to revelation from the Word, there is promise of a fully completed assembly. That consequence of a self-directed venture can bring to light how essential is compliance with our life manual. Where there was once indifference to the Word’s directives, with the affliction is potential for fixation on its truth like never before. As pride is brought low, wisdom is given access with its assurance of a completed and fulfilled life of purpose.