Submitting Amidst Affliction
We have established that God never intended submission to be used for derogatory purposes. And yet, in the midst of trials many Christians struggle with submitting to plans which may lead down troublesome paths. Can a woman battling terminal cancer simply “let go and let God?” Can a father readily submit to a just God in the aftermath of losing a son? Affliction tends to shed light on the true thoughts and intents of the heart, and for many believers it is the time of life when God tests whether our contentment is truly found in him.
Submit through the Trial
Romans 8:14-25 provides insight into what it looks like to submit in the midst of affliction. In verse 15 the author penned that he cried out, “Abba, Father.” He recognized that in the storm of trouble, God was still sufficient, and like a father, his careful eyes were on the situation. Although we may not understand what God is accomplishing through the trial, we can still trust that he is at work. We must yield to his working as we recognize that we “eagerly wait” for the day when all will be revealed.
Submit with Pleasure
Those who have never experienced a relationship with Christ cannot comprehend the idea of joy in the midst of a trial. However, since believers know that God is active in their circumstances, watchfully caring for their needs, they often experience contentment and ultimately, great joy in affliction. For “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
I have personally witnessed this contented peace that “passes all understanding” when visiting godly saints in a hospital bed. Regardless of pain or bleak circumstances these Christians understand that God is enough, and they are filled with pleasure at the opportunity to serve God in their present situation.
The Psalmist wrote in 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Christians who experience true contentment have taken a critical step in their walk with the Lord where they can honestly say, “It is good that I am afflicted.” It is certainly good for their sanctification, and ultimately good for God’s glory.
“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
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