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By a strange providence, the treatment of one affliction has resulted in the healing of another. God works in mysterious ways, indeed.

For over a week, I have been on a strong treatment of cortisone for a problem with one of my vocal cords. Dr Duane told me that, for the next couple of Sundays, I would be “preaching on steroids” (longer sermons?). Interestingly, I have also observed that I am now able to run longer—and faster. The cortisone seems to have aided my running. Although this disqualifies me from the Olympics (!), nevertheless, I sure am enjoying getting back into a “runner’s groove.” In fact, I’m thinking of asking for a repeat prescription!

But more seriously, another positive side-effect has been the healing of abdominal muscles that, for the past eight months, have been very sore due to various surgeries and procedures. I now barely feel any pain. And so, although I am unable to speak properly, I can at least run properly, and I can do so pain-free. Methinks there is a life lesson here.

David wrote, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm 119:67). David then elaborates on this in vv. 71–72, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Perhaps David had experienced a material loss of “gold and silver pieces” and yet, compared to the value of learning and loving God’s word, this was a small price to pay. Whatever David’s affliction, by the grace of God it became a means of spiritual improvement. Through whatever affliction God had sent his way, David anticipated that God would use it to equip him for his spiritual race and hence he earlier declared, “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (v. 32). I don’t know what effect cortisone has on the physical heart, but David seems to make the connection between afflictions and a healthy spiritual heart.

For whatever reason, the Lord has been driving home to our church family the place of affliction and suffering in the life of the Christian. Our studies in 1 Peter and in Job have drawn attention to this as has the many afflictions experienced by so many in our church over the past several months. These sufferings are painful, and yet mysteriously they are proving productive. An affliction in one area has often been the means of healing in another area.

For example, as some have experienced financial loss, they have at the same time experienced, first-hand, the practical fellowship of the saints in meeting needs. Some have experienced great sorrow at the loss of health while others have experienced the death of loved ones. And yet these afflictions have resulted in a deeper fellowship with both Jesus Christ and with the church. Others have undergone relational heartaches and yet these have proven to be a means of sanctification. In each case, one affliction has resulted in the healing of another affliction. The result for many has been a sense of running the Christian race on spiritual steroids. The suffering has proven to be a helpful—a healing—supplement.

In view of God’s strange and amazing providence, Paul wrote, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28–29). Among other things, Paul is telling Christians that when afflicted in one area, God is using this to improve us in another area, namely, Christlikeness.

And so, afflicted saint, faithfully run your race taking your “daily dose” of God’s truth. You will find over time that though hurting in one area, you are being healed in another. You might even feel that you are running on steroids.