For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.  Genesis 41:52

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to think about being fruitful when I am in the middle of affliction. When I’m in pain, that’s not usually my greatest concern. I just want to get out of the land of affliction as quickly as possible. I don’t understand how I got there--or why. I don’t care! I just want out!

If we were to verbalize how we feel (and some of us do—loudly!), we would say something like: “These troubles are coming one after another; I can’t get a break. Because of these disappointments, I’m losing hope. Sorrows are breaking my heart. This suffering seems undeserved, and I’m not sure why this is happening. I can’t take any more. These burdens are wearing me down.”

            In an old devotional book I have, Streams in the Desert, one devotion talks about this very thing. It says: Friend, under the beating rain are springing up spiritual flowers of such fragrance and beauty as never before grew in your untroubled life. You see the rain. But do you see the flowers? You are in pain from your testing, but God sees the faith that is being strengthened by those very trials. You shrink from suffering, but God sees the tender compassion that is finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces under the sorrow and loss, but God sees the deepening and enriching which that sorrow has brought to you.

            It isn’t raining affliction for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the Spirit, which are bringing into your life a spiritual depth and strength that could not happen otherwise.

             Troubles and trials will come. They are a part of life that we can’t avoid. You may be feeling the brunt of those things right now. Are you going to allow these things to make you bitter and cynical? If you harden the soil of your heart against the rain, you will remain dry and parched. But if you let these things penetrate your heart and mind by accepting them as from God’s loving hand—however difficult it may feel—you will reap great fruit from these afflictions. These very things can be the vessels for growth and abundance. Stop thinking, “It shouldn’t be like this,” and say instead, “God, pour Your grace on me today in this hurting place. May this situation bear great fruit for Your kingdom and in my life.”

            * What is the affliction that is causing you pain?

            *Will you ask God to give you a receptive heart to receive these “gifts”?

Lord, in the midst of everything I am going through, I know that You are still on Your throne. Hide me in Your secret place as I live in this land of affliction. I pray that whatever You are working deep in my heart will take root and that You will make my life fruitful in this place. May it bring You great glory! I love You, Lord.

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