The Cleansing Water of Affliction

August 17, 2002
by Janet Wiebe

Isaiah 30:18,20 – Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. (NIV)

My church has been facing, and continues to face, a few funerals this season. They are honourable deaths of saints who founded and built this congregation when my older brothers were baptized in the school around the corner from where the church was later built.

However, these funerals began to get under my skin, because my husband is almost twenty years my senior and I am far from ready to see him go. Each funeral was a reminder of his relatively impending death. This summer will be our third anniversary, and, although I may be more of a seasoned bride than a new one, nonetheless, I still feel a bit of a bride. Then he came home with a virus.

His head, to quote his expression, felt like a pumpkin. He felt achy all over for about four days. I treasure each moment with him, almost like trying to bottle it up for future solace. Now he feels better, and I have inherited the viral battle in my body's own way. My kidneys have begun to ache.

I recall the bread of adversity and water of affliction when I was but a child. I had chronic kidney infections until I had surgery at Sick Children's Hospital at the age of nine years. The scar tissues remain, and whenever toxins or active bacteria or viruses come my way, my body reminds me of those days when I could barely lift my feet and certainly could not walk or run fast, for the pain I would be in. I feel gratefulness for having lived, since I could have died, and for a mother who was insistent with the doctors. Priorities in life's struggles come into perspective once again.

I have had the ache in my kidney off and on for a week now. I have tried to slow down. The best I've done, indeed could not avoid, is to fit in a few naps. I shall be fine. I know the drill. These are strangely holy moments for me, difficult to explain. My awareness of who I am in my relationship with my heavenly Father comes into sharp relief. My fretting over what I have not yet accomplished in life is blown away like so much smoke, an illusion of the mind.

So much of our fretting is just that, an illusion of the mind. Thank God for holy afflictions which draw us out of such illusions and bring us into the reality of our life in the loving presence of God our heavenly Father!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the peace You grant us in spite of ourselves. Enable our hearts to rejoice, as when people go up with flutes to the Rock of Israel, to hear Your majestic voice deeply and powerfully within us. Bring us to a place of resting in You, cleansed by the water of affliction. In the name of the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

About the author:

Janet Wiebe <ro_hicock@yahoo.ca>
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

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