Isn’t it obvious? Nobody likes to feel pain. The only challenge is, since the fall of the first man, pain became a vital instrument for accessing God.
According to scriptures, the flesh is an enemy of God, and it will continue to be so until the end of time. When we were kids, we know how our parents would restrain us from even greeting anybody they have a dispute with. If you greet them by mistake, you won’t forget the beating you’d get in a hurry. That’s how it is with man, the flesh hates God, and so any attempt to reach the Spirit of God would be contested. That’s why if a man in the flesh needs to reach God who is a Spirit, he’d need to afflict his flesh with the pain and discomfort of fasting to be able to accomplish that. I wish I were joking, but even God isn’t silent about this subject.
In Joel chapter 2, the bible unveils an agenda to advance God’s people. From verse 1 all the way to verse 11, diverse potential blessings were listed. God was ready to bless them, but their hearts wasn’t right with God. And just so they could receive the blessing, God prescribed a solution for them. Let’s read how scriptures put it:
12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Just last Sunday, a woman met me to extend a new year felicity. Coincidentally, one of the things she said was, “Happy Fasting”. My mind quickly ran through the bits I knew about fasting, and the next question that came out of my mouth was, “What is happy about fasting?”
A time of fasting isn’t a time to be happy, happiness is derived from the pleasures you give to your flesh. There’s nothing happy about starving your body of food. A time of fasting is a time to grieve in the spirit, and you can’t be grieving and be happy at the same time. Verse 12 of that scripture says that we should turn to the Lord with all our heart with fasting, weeping and mourning. Those are not happy words at all. Alternative words for “mourning” include, sorrow, unhappiness, to express grief over something. Remember that this was the very word that Daniel used when he was on a 21-day fast. Imagine telling Daniel “happy fasting” at that moment🤣.
So according to God, if they wanted to receive all those promises, they had to engage in a fast, a fast that is characterized by weeping, unhappiness, and grief, just like Daniel did.
When 2 Corinthians 4:17 spoke about our light affliction, it wasn’t talking about the afflictions that our lack of sensitivity caused, it was talking about self-imposed affliction. Let’s see how scripture put it:
2 Corinthians 4:
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
So an exceeding and eternal weight of glory cannot be worked out for us except we afflict ourselves through fasting. Verse 18 unveils why many Christians would not afflict themselves, they build their life around things which are seen. What they don’t know is that the things which are seen are temporal and subject to change, and as long as it’s temporal, it means the affliction they were avoiding is inevitable. If your pleasure in physical things is the reason why you can’t afflict yourself in fasting, then get ready for heavy affliction, not the light one that should have been self-imposed.
When a man is troubled, his ability to fast is automatically activated. And just in case you’re wondering why God permits trouble in our lives, it’s because He has an eighty percent chance of getting our attention. God hid certain details about our lives inside Himself, and He needs to reveal it to us by every means possible. So if you have to enter trouble before He’d get that opportunity, then so be it. This is why God factored affliction into the lifestyle of man.
So affliction isn’t supposed to be a bad thing – if administered by ourselves, it only appears bad when our flesh leads us into trouble. If you give out your car as a seed and start trekking to work, isn’t it better than getting involved in an accident and landing in the hospital? So when God told you to give your car, it’s not because he hates you, but because He needs you to afflict your body for the next thing He wants to do. I’m not saying that God would orchestrate an accident, but what do you think would happen when you walk in disobedience? Ofcourse, the devil will attack. Either way, whether you’re in the hospital or trekking to work, you’d be compelled to seek God. I know this isn’t a convenient message, but just because the gospel is good news doesn’t mean it’s all convenient.
If you’ve trained yourself to always give, you won’t be worried when there is lack. Bishop David Oyedepo would often tell us how God instructed him to give out his only car. That’s not a convenient thing, but that affliction was necessary to receive the wealth that God had reserved for him. Apostle Joshua Selman has often shared his story of how God retrained him from buying a car. He had the money, but God didn’t permit him. Imagine a whole Apostle Joshua Selman entering a motorbike to a ministration, he’d definitely feel bad when the people he was going to minister to sees him on a bike. Then again, that self affliction was necessary for his lifting.
James 4:8-10 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up”. You must have read that God wants us to rejoice always, but perhaps you’d learn today that in God’s curriculum, there is a point where He expects us to sacrifice our joy for heaviness, so that we can give birth to His agenda for our life.
As I conclude, the amplified version of 2 Timothy 2:3 says, “Take with me your share of hardship [passing through the difficulties which you are called to endure], like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. You can’t claim to be a soldier of Christ without a testimony of your endurance. But be wise, it’s easier to endure a self-imposed affliction than fighting an attack from the devil.
I hope this has brought enlightenment to someone.
Remain ever blessed, in Jesus precious name!