Affliction: The Christian’s Great Teacher

 Though affliction, trials, suffering, and sorrow are difficult to bear in this life, they are not meaningless for the Christian.  In fact, as Paul says, God can uses affliction for our good (Rom 8).  Thomas Watson, in All Things for Good, lists several ways how affliction works for the good of God’s people.  I’ve slightly edited them here.

1) Affliction is our teacher.  Affliction teaches us to know ourselves.  In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves.  God makes us know affliction, that we may better know ourselves.  We see corruption in our hearts in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there. 

2) Affliction draws the Christian away from the love of the world.  In prosperity the heart cleaves partly to the world, partly to God.  Then God takes away the world so that the heart may cleave more to him in sincerity.

3) Afflictions conform the Christian to Christ.  God’s chastening rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more lively upon us.  Was Christ’s head crowned with thorns, and do we think to be crowned with roses?

4) Affliction takes away the dross of sin.  Just like a doctor sometimes prescribes painful methods to get rid of tumors, so God uses afflictions as the painful medicine which heals many spiritual diseases.

5) Afflictions help loosen our grip on the world.  When you dig away the dirt from the root of a tree, it is to loosen the tree from the earth.  So God digs away our earthly comforts to loosen our hearts from the world.

6) Affliction is a sign of God’s fatherly love.  God disciplines those whom he loves.  Every stroke of the rod of affliction is a badge of sonship.

Watson lists a few more ways that affliction is one of the teachers God uses in the Christian’s life.  Again, though they are difficult to bear and bring tears, they are not useless.

The above quotes and paraphrases above are found in chapter two of All Things for Good.

shane lems



6 comments on “Affliction: The Christian’s Great Teacher

  1. Thank you for this post. I have this book but haven’t read it yet. It sounded too good not to buy it, especially for how inexpensive it is.


  2. Would you mind if I reposted this with Scripture references added? If not that’s perfectly OK, but if so I would credit you along with slightly editing the quotes and mention that I added the Scripture.


    • You certainly may. One goal of our blog is to encourage Christians in the faith. To that end, repost away! And feel free to link it here in case our readers want the scripture references.



  3. Andrew says:

    I just read some really powerful quotes by Thomas Boston to the same effect. He had to bury 6 children … I simply can’t imagine that kind of grief.


  4. Brad says:

    Thanks for this recommendation. I downloaded the Kindle edition for .99 from Amazon!


  5. Stephen says:

    I need to get this one. I was greatly edified by Watson’s Godly Man’s Picture (purchased on this blog’s recommendation).


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