How do you respond to any sort of affliction or unexpected change in your life?
Edith Schaeffer, in her book Affliction, penned the following words regarding the significance of our responses to difficulties (whether “major” problems like illness or imprisonment, or “minor” problems like headaches or criticism):
“The wonderful discovery is that our finite, weak, imperfect, human actions and reactions – the attitudes of our minds and emotions and the things we whisper to God, as well as the things we do – matter to God.
This is a discovery that can change all of life for us, when we begin to realize fully that we can have a part on God’s side of the heavenly battle, bringing joy to God and defeat to Satan – while we lie in a hospital bed or spend a lifetime in a wheelchair; as we sweep up the broken glass on a floor, sweat uphill with a heavy load, or wait on someone who is unloving; when we sit in a prison cell and feel the rough hand of a guard on our shoulder, stand in a courtroom to answer unjust charges, or feel the crack of a whip against our flesh or the crack of harsh criticism whipping into our sensitive feelings; and at the moment of facing a telegram with crushing news or discovering that we are going blind. We can whisper, whatever the circumstances, ‘God, I don’t understand, but I love You and I trust You. Don’t let me flinch; don’t let me let You down in this area of the battle.’
This to me is the fabulous ‘discovery of all discoveries’ – that God is so fair that He enables us each to have the opportunity to have outstanding things to do in His total history of victory through the ages.
Here is the vandal Satan, trying to destroy all of God’s Creation and trying to smear and devastate the beauty of love and trust and the continuity of the relationship between God and His people. You and I and each of the people of God through the ages have completely different and individual things to do which are equally important . . .
None of us can have God’s perspective. However, He has given us small glimpses, hints, open windows here and there in His Word, so that we might have some idea of His fairness, which is so marvelous that the unknown and unheard-of slave in some obscure village of the world, beaten and bashed around, may have the most titanic victory in the heavenly battle that has ever been had.
On the day when believers’ rewards are given out . . . I am sure that we will be astounded at the things that were counted ‘the greatest’ and the things that were counted ‘the least.’ There is no one who is shut away from having a victory (or even a whole string of victories in the heavenly battle) . . .
None of us can know which shock or illness (headache or operation, disappointment or disillusionment with a friend, criticism or other human attack, loss of job or loss of house and land, news of a close loved one’s death, or totally destructive earthquake) will turn out to be the most important opportunity we are ever going to have to honestly love God and truly trust Him in a way which will bring Him joy and defeat Satan. We cannot know which is the most important moment in our lives . . . Our most important moment can come when no one but God and Satan are aware of it, when our response to the Lord is one which wins at once a battle which could have left a horrible tear or hole in the fabric of history.”
(Affliction, by Edith Schaeffer; pg. 78-79; emphasis mine)