The incredible blessings of Anfectung
I recently wrote a blog about the German term, Anfectung. This term embodies the trials, tribulations, sufferings, struggles and troubles the Christian experiences in this sad, sin-fallen world. When last I wrote about this I had learned through it to trust our Lord to bring me through. However, I did not learn this nor go through this alone…Thank God! In that blog I wrote about my dear sisters in the Ladies Bible Study at Faith Lutheran Church. This is what I said,
Anfechtung with friends
There is no doubt that what brought me through was God’s grace. However, it was the how and through whom He showed this grace that I will cherish forever. Barb, Janet, Judy, Lee Ann, Mary Jane and Sally, these were God’s instruments of comfort, courage and conviction. It was these ladies whom God used. It was these from the Tuesday Ladies Bible Study who understood the frustrations as I recounted to them the many challenges that semester and who held me up.
When at the end, when I could see that finish line tape, when I felt like suddenly there were lead weights tied around my ankles and someone/thing holding me back from crossing that line, it was these ladies who were confident God would bring me through and be glorified. They encouraged me. They let me cry. They prayed for me. They loved me…in the mess, in the anger, in the frustration and anxiety.
Not the end of the story
I could have left the blog open ended as to how God resolved all of this but talking with two ladies yesterday made me realize the story did not end there…in the mess, anger and frustrations. God resolved this in an incredible manner, in a way that I don’t think any of us thought. More than that, He worked in me through this and gets all the glory.
Confession and Absolution
As I went through the struggle this past semester, each Sunday we gather at the Divine Service where God serves us (there’s a blog post on this too). In each Divine Service there is a time to confess our sins (often not enough time, as my friend Sally says) and then the Pastor, standing in the stead of Christ, absolves us, forgives us, in Christ, of all our sins. I will be honest here and say that often I would be repenting of not wanting to forgive this particular professor. I guess that counts…sort of. Each week I realized that I was holding anger in my own heart and each week, especially during this past Advent Season, I was finding myself needing to confess my own sins of unforgiveness more and more. Often, during the week, something else would happen that would just frustrate me even more and then I would be confessing the anger each day and especially on Sundays at the Divine Service. However, over the weeks, God worked in me to actually pray for this professor.
Shocking turn of Events!
After I had completed the semester, and my degree, soon word came to us that God had completely resolved the issue. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say none of us expected the resolution God brought to bear. Sally had often been praying for me and the words of Martin Luther would keep coming to her, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” When I finished the course I had a choice to change the conclusion of my paper to sound more in line with this particular prof’s view. However, that would go against Scripture and my own conscience. So, I chose to risk an “F” for not changing the conclusion and leave what I believed to be a biblical one. It resulted in an “A” on the paper and an “A” for the course. God moved in other ways and brought blessing out of this. In fact, when we received word of how God resolved this matter something happened: I didn’t click my heals nor celebrate. In fact, it led me to pray compassionately.
Blessings from Anfectung
I suppose the real effect of all this struggle, anger and frustration was this:
I had to learn to trust God and stand on Scripture no matter the risk
I needed to learn that God works in us to make us more like Christ through Anfectung
Deep and abiding friendships developed because my sisters joined with me, praying, counseling, consoling and encouraging me
God deserves all the glory…even when we are in a period of Anfectung!
What we go through God uses for His glory to make us more like His Son Jesus Christ. In Romans 8 and 12 we see this clearly when Paul writes,
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
As you go through periods of Anfectung throughout your Christian life, be encouraged that His promises most certainly true. You may have to stand against the crowd, even against other believers for what is true and faithful to God’s Word but it is worth it in the end for He is faithful to deliver us.