If we find ourselves suffering from an affliction, here is what the Bible instructs us to do:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. — James 5:13
If we have a problem or affliction of any kind in our body or life, then the Bible instructs us to pray!
Why does the Bible tell us to pray?
It tells us to pray because prayer is what moves God to deliver us from our affliction.
To elaborate, we know from reading the Bible…and we should know from experience…that God is our deliverer…that we can pray for deliverance from any affliction…and we can receive that deliverance contingent upon our faith and God’s timing.
It is God’s will to deliver us from afflictions for our good and for His glory.
Having made these assertions, there are some exceptions…and I will mention three of them here. The first exception is this…
1. Affliction intended to keep us right with God.
Sometimes, God has to keep us under the rein of an affliction in order to keep us right before Him. The Apostle Paul’s affliction is a great example of this exception:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. — 2 Corinthians 12:7
The Lord knows how prone we humans are to get lifted up in ourselves…and how prone we are to start self-glorying. So sometimes, God has to put something on us to keep us humble…to help us remember who and what we are…and who and what He is.
But, Paul had an affliction…and he wanted deliverance from that affliction…so he did what we are supposed to do…he prayed seriously and earnestly that the Lord would deliver him. However, the Lord wanted to keep Paul in an humbled state…the Lord did not want Paul to lose his salvation…so the Lord declined to remove the affliction. Let’s have a look…
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. — 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
As this verse illustrates, we have the ability to pray about a problem or affliction until God responds to us.
Now, God may or may not give us the response that we want, but He will respond to us.
And, IF God gives us a response that is not what we wanted, then we are to have the attitude and perspective that Paul had…”therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities“.
Now, let’s move to the second exception…
2. Affliction that removes some blessing, ability, or talent because it has (or soon will) become a snare that is separating us…or others…from God.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler. — Psalms 91:3
Anything that we are sufficiently interested in…and good at…has the potential of becoming an issue between us and God…or between God and other people.
So, in love and mercy, God sometimes intervenes and removes the ability for that interest, blessing, ability, or talent to separate us…or others…from God.
As an example, if God has blessed a certain individual with an exceptional measure of musical talent…but God sees that the individual is going in a not-good direction musically…such that the individual’s musical talent will become a snare to his or her soul…or to the souls of other people…then God will sometimes place an affliction on that individual that prevents him or her from playing music or singing songs.
And finally, here is the third exception…
3. Affliction that is a recompense for affliction we have previously laid upon others.
As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. — Obadiah 1:15
Behold, I…will return your recompence upon your own head. — Joel 3:7
This scenario also applied to the Apostle Paul. In the earlier part of his life, he seriously hurt and harmed people…and God justly returned that hurt and harm to him over the remainder of his life.
In a similar vein, there have been those who found themselves in (what they believed to be) an elevated position relative to certain others…and in arrogance, haughtiness, pridefulness, and self-righteousness, they deeply and grievously hurt some of those who (they felt) were at a lesser level than themselves.
And now, they are reaping the affliction they previously sowed.
So, having described these three exceptions, if one of them applies to you…then you will know it when you are praying for deliverance from your affliction…because God will hold the cause for the exception between you and Him when you pray.
Pray for deliverance from your affliction…and hold faith that it is God’s good pleasure to deliver you!
Do this and soon enough you will receive your deliverance.