Perfect Afflictions

Micah 4:6 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will assemble the lame and gather the outcasts, even those whom I have afflicted.”

Observation: Judah had been in such rebellion that God sent Micah to prophesy destruction of the nation and judgment against the people. For three chapters, Micah had described in creative yet clear language the things that were coming.  But a shift occurs in chapter 4. He began describing the glories of the coming kingdom, leading to God’s declaration that He would “assemble the lame and gather the outcasts, even those whom I afflicted.”

Application: Now hold it right there, God. Is this supposed to be good news? It is one thing to be angry at a rebellious nation and to rain judgment on them. They were asking for it. I’m OK with that. It’s also not much of a stretch to understand individuals behaving in ways that merit Your wrath. But hold on. Are you saying that I—me personally—deserved to eat at this table of bitterness? I mean, I have no problem with the corporate “we” as it is called. Nations and peoples are one thing, but “we” and “they” are surely different from “me,” right, God?

What is it within me that resists the logical conclusion that His judgments and wrath should somehow be personalized, tailored uniquely for me? Imagine! Yes, Lord, You have every right to correct whole nations. But do I really merit such individualized attention? O, what a creative God He is, able to bring perfect affliction to each member of the multitudes. 

But always remember this: while His disciplines might seem like judgment and wrath, they really aren’t. They reflect a love so great I can hardly begin to imagine it, always for the purpose of restoration. When I think of restoration it conjures a broken leg that’s healed, or a drug-stupefied loved one now clean.  But His purpose in restoration is never limited to just making me again how I had once been. Restoration envisions uniting me with Him in the fullness He intended before sin separated us. Perfect peace, perfect rest, attained by passing through afflictions lovingly designed for each of us. Hebrews 6:19–20 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered.”

Prayer: O loving God, Your purposes in affliction are so far beyond my imagining. Thank You for doing whatever it takes to unite me with You for all eternity. For years I have used one passage of Scripture to thank you “in” my afflictions but drawn the line against thanking you “for” them. I see today that I’ve been remiss in that. Forgive me, Lord, even as you enlarge my understanding of Your purposes in my life.

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