O Beautiful Affliction
This mortal wounding bringing me to life again
In suffering there’s healing
This darkness revealing
Silence speaking volumes to my soul
O Beautiful Affliction
Blessed brokenness that makes me whole– David Baroni
This insightful poem of his own creation, obviously gleaned from some pretty painful personal experience. It is so hard for us to get this message, surrounded as we are by other ways of thinking that promise us the opposite of suffering. Everything in our culture seems designed to relieve or avoid suffering and pain—certainly not welcome it with open arms.
Now relieving pain and suffering is an honorable task and something to take advantage of, should we, or those we love, become afflicted with disease or injury. Medical science and nature have provided us with significant pain relievers that I believe are gifts of God to help ease suffering. But the notion that pain and suffering should not be our lot, and there is something wrong if it does come our way, is wrong. Paul went as far as to say that we cannot share in Christ’s glory without sharing also in His suffering and death.
“As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11 NLT)!
That’s the one thing about resurrection power that we often forget: something has to die for it to be experienced. Resurrection power is not handed out to healthy, well-adjusted successful people. Resurrection power is not a way to add on to your faith. It’s not like going down to the spiritual gym and working out until you build up a good amount of resurrection power. It’s not like adding some power drink or multi-spiritual vitamins to your spiritual regimen. You don’t add devotional time with God in order to burst you spiritual buttons with newly formed resurrection power (Step aside spiritual giants!). No. There’s only one way to get resurrection power. You suffer and die for it. You get cut down, humiliated, slammed in the face, and knocked flat on your back. You don’t get pumped up. Quite the opposite, you get everything pumped out of you, and that’s when you rise again—when there is absolutely no way anything could possibly come from you.
That’s precisely why we can call this a “Beautiful Affliction,” because it brought us to this. This is not some vicarious experience where we imagine ourselves dead and then imagine ourselves alive to Christ. It is a dying experience—a face-to-face encounter with our own mortality from which we do not rise if we do not get help from somewhere else, and our help comes from the Lord.