All of us know what afflictions are, those times of trouble and stress that keep us up at night. They can be so painful and debilitating that we lose sleep because of the anguish and anxiety. Yet, as painful as afflictions are, God uses them to achieve his purposes in our lives. David writes, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). However, you may be surprised to know that God can use afflictions to heal sinners as well as saints.
Manasseh, the wickedest king in Israel’s history, turned from the Lord and became vile and murderous. This evil man raised up idols to the pagan god Baal, even in the court of the Temple. He built altars for worshiping the sun, moon and stars. He sacrificed his own children, casting them into fiery pits of demonic idols. He scorned the words of righteous prophets and, instead, sought the counsel of fortune-tellers. He condoned witchcraft, familiar spirits and devil worship. And he was a brutal, bloodthirsty tyrant who delighted in murdering innocents. Scripture says Manasseh sinned worse than all the heathen surrounding Israel.
What eventually happened to this wicked king? God sent great affliction upon him through the Assyrian army. The dreaded Assyrians invaded Jerusalem and took the people captive, including Manasseh, whom they bound in chains and wrapped in painful thorns.
Surprisingly, during this time of awful affliction, Manasseh humbled himself and began to pray: “When he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chronicles 33:12). And how did God respond to Manasseh’s prayer? He was merciful and heard the king’s cries. Then he restored Manasseh to his throne and he became a fighter for righteousness, tearing down the idols and altars he had built in the land.
As we see in this account, God can use afflictions to heal sinners as well as saints. A good lesson for us might be to never give up on anyone, no matter how vile or evil. God has ways of bringing even the worst sinner to himself, so be encouraged to persevere in prayer for those who need deliverance.