Affliction, by Edith Schaeffer, provides a wonderful look at our God’s providence and goodness through any affliction during this lifetime. Schaeffer was no stranger to suffering, and uses her own experiences and those of other well-known believers to explain how we should respond to any type affliction, from major illnesses or deaths of loved ones, to seemingly minor trials such as headaches or criticisms.
Schaeffer begins the book with a chapter entitled “Why? Why? Why?” — and as you can expect, this takes a precursory look at why we face afflictions. She draws from the truths of Scripture, especially the book of Job and the sermons of Stephen and Paul, as she seeks to impart wisdom and encouragement to her readers. She makes the point that we all will suffer in some way during our time on earth, and that, although we have this shared experience of suffering, all our trials are unique to ourselves. No one else will have the same exact set of circumstances at the same point in their lives as you will.
This point is further expounded upon as she spends a few chapters on the subject of our response to affliction. We are not to remain idle in tribulation, thinking that there is “nothing” we can do; rather, we each have tasks that only we can accomplish – and sometimes they are tasks that can only be accomplished during our times of suffering.
Other chapters in the book include topics such as the working of patience (or endurance) through tribulation, the “school of comforters” taught through suffering, the furtherance of the gospel through affliction, and the practice of contentment.
Affliction is a must-read for any believer. We all face some sort of trouble in our lives, whether afflicted by our own sinful natures or by external circumstances. We all could benefit in our spiritual from practicing better (more godly) responses to those troubles. We all could find more ways to glorify God through those troubles.