Before I was afflicted I disobeyed.
For the longest time possible in my walk of salvation I walked the broad path, the worldly path. I came to church on Sunday, Bible study in the weekday and the rest of my weekend, which began on Thursday, I joined the throngs of party goers that moved from one joint to another looking for excitement. I dated, read, and watched stuff which pushed the bounds of purity. Yet interestingly I viewed myself as a really good christian. I wanted Christ and the world. I wanted to eat my cake and have it. And in a way I seemed to get away with my double lifestyle without really getting any consequences. It was like in Eden: feasting on the forbidden fruit “without dying.”
Although I had memorised portions of scriptures and even taught and drilled them to others: Do not be conformed to the standards of this world; they were irrelevant to me. I was like those who had eyes but could not see and ears but could not hear. I was purporting to be alive, but was really dead. Like an addict, I vacillated between moments of “holiness” and worldliness.I tried to serve two masters endeavouring to “equitably” divide my love and loyalty between them. But I failed terribly, for friendship with the world was enmity with God. I became the enemy of the one I was supposed to love because the world was too much with me.
Initially I did not perceive my folly, mistaking God’s long suffering towards me for permissiveness. In my blindness,I sowed unto flesh and expected to reap righteousness, like those who sow wild oats all week and pray fervently on Sunday that they might not sprout. God cannot be mocked; I reaped a great wind that drove me to the lowest doldrums.It is from whence I cried out to God: save me! And He stretched out His righteous right hand and saved me.He forgave me my sin and assured me of salvation, however He gave me something extra:blessed affliction.
At first blessed affliction felt like “ cursed affliction”.I railed after God Almighty, “ Why afflict me after I have surrendered? Why..And in that moment He seemed extremely silent. His silence made me scream louder and louder, cutting off his still small voice. I screamed till I was hoarse until I had no voice left. Only then did the stillness come, after a really long storm that lapsed through months and even a couple of years.
Consequently, quietness and rest came. He began to reveal to me what blessed affliction was all about:love, because those He loves, He chastises. He loved me, I belonged to Him and this affliction was to correct me and cure me from my sinful waywardness. My own earthly father had many times used similar method to correct me of my vice, in then short term. But never had I imagined that my heavenly Father would cause me prolonged pain. Oh, if He could only take away the pain, I would not mind it one bit. But He refused to give in to my demands. He asked me to endure and trust the process intended to reap a harvest of righteousness.
I endured my afflictions in a sporadic manner. Some days were better than others. On good days I could sing blessed affliction, Jesus is mine but on those dark gloomy days, I moaned about accursed affliction like the Israelites at Merribah wanting to return to slavery. However as time went by I began to notice a change in me. I began to accept my blessed affliction. Also, when the sinful old woman came beckoning wearing a seductive smile and her dancing shoes I was able to resist her. The blessed affliction then began to make sense. Before blessed affliction I went astray but now I was keen to keep the word of faith which had been implanted in me.
No blessed affliction is pleasant at the time it is given. Mine was tough and the Almighty knows the sum of my tears beseeching Him to take away that cup. But He said He would not and His grace was sufficient for me. So I drunk that cup to the lees. As I finished it I realised that it had been good for me to be afflicted for it helped me learn that His precepts are not cumbersome, but sweeter than a honey comb rejoicing the heart and giving life to my bones. But this lesson did not come easy to one who was often like a mule, lacking understanding. It took the path of blessed affliction to get me here. So, I can honestly reiterate: Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I endeavour to keep His word and can dare to sing: blessed affliction, Jesus is mine.