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 fulness 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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