In this chapter we have the story of two judges, who after leading 45 years left the nation of Israel in apostasy. God in his anger, allowed Israel to be oppressed for 18 years before their thoughts began to turn to God again. The Israelites finally agree with God about their sin of dabbling with various gods. In the Lord's reply you can hear the pain in His voice as He responds. He has saved them time and time again, yet they seem driven to offend the God who helps them so (Jud 10:11-13). Our sin hurts our Creator. He is not dispassionately afflicting pain; He responds with affliction to correct our wrong thinking. God longs to have fellowship with His people and He doesn't want to judge their betrayal.
There is something significant in verse 16 that I hope you will see. My text says, "And he could bear Israel's misery no longer." God not only is the dispenser of affliction, He goes through it with His people. He could bear it no more. What a wonderful God we have that would endure so much for our love.
God uses affliction to turn us away from our folly and to completely abandon it. Some might say that the affliction was the natural result of the sinful ways they chose; but it is also the mark of God removing His hand of provision. He longs for our allegiance but we must chose who we serve.
The gods of our modern world don't always have altars, but our heart is diverted from our worship of God when we pursue the follies of this age as well. Many Christians my say, "I don't engage in hateful acts, I attend church, I pray and I am not addicted to drugs or alcohol." We measure our hearts by comparing them to others. God sees the things that have control. Maybe it is Internet, TV, pursuit of sports or career advancement, but any activity that takes a place in our lives God should have is an idol and we should turn away. I am not suggesting that hard work, play, or leisure are necessarily evil, but we should be careful to evaluate the control they exert over us.
God still longs for fellowship with His people and in His long suffering to bring us back to Him, He may use affliction. If you are enduring hardship, consider how God may be using this time to grow you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus so that we may be a bride well suited for our Lord. The wedding day is coming dear friend, now is the time of preparation. When the end arrives and we are joined forever with our Lord, it will be easy to thank Him for the times of affliction that allowed our faith and our character to grow.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.