Psalms 119:65-66 ESV
“You have dealt well with your servant,
O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, do bad things sometimes happen to us? Yes, they do. We go through trials and tribulations. We sometimes get sick and we get infections and viruses. And sometimes those infections or viruses can linger for a long while and they may even create other issues for us in the long run. People may hate, reject, and persecute us for our walks of faith and for our testimonies for our Lord, too. So life has its ups and downs.
So, if we say with the Psalmist that God has dealt well with us who are his servants, and that he has done so according to his word, this is not saying that everything went well for us or that we didn’t hit any “bumps in the road,” i.e. that we didn’t face any difficulties that made progress in life more challenging. For the Scriptures do not teach us a life of ease if we follow Jesus. They teach us that we will face trials, tribulations and persecutions.
But these trials and tribulations and even persecutions are for our good to teach us good judgment, and to teach us perseverance, and to make us holy, and to mature us in our walks of faith, and to teach us to rely on Jesus and not on ourselves for our strength and support. They are to humble us and to teach us love and compassion, and so we feel the heart of God and what concerns him, and so we love what he loves and hate what he hates.
They are also to help us gain a lot of wisdom and good sense and to be more discerning and wise. For through our difficult situations, especially if they have to do with mistreatment from others, we learn a lot about people, and we learn to not be so trusting and naïve to where we end up believing people we should not be believing but to where we are testing more and more the things that we are hearing, reading, and seeing.
[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]
Psalms 119:67-68 ESV
“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.”
If we are afflicted it can mean that we are suffering, that we are hurting, that we are in pain and anguish and/or that we are sorrowful and grieving. And we can suffer because of things physical going on in our bodies or because of circumstances in our lives, or because of what others are going through, particularly family members, or because of natural disasters, etc. Or we can be afflicted because of persecution and being hated and rejected.
Sometimes, but not always, God allows us to be afflicted because we have gone astray from him and because we are not living for him as we ought, or because we have fallen back into sin. And the purpose is to bring us back into fellowship with him and to get us back on course to following him with our lives in obedience to his commands. And sometimes this may be because he has a very specific mission for us in mind.
But not all suffering is because of sin in our lives. Much of it is God’s loving and divine discipline in our lives for the reasons stated above, that we might mature in our walks of faith and grow in maturity and become holy, etc. Some examples of this are the story of Job, who was a righteous man who feared God, and the suffering God allowed him to endure. And then Paul was afflicted and prayed for healing but Jesus’ response to him was his grace was sufficient, and so Paul was just to trust the Lord in his suffering.
So, when we suffer, and when we go through difficulties, instead of immediately praying for God to deliver us out of them, perhaps we should be praying that God will teach us what he wants us to learn through them, and then if he would be pleased to remove the suffering we pray that he would. But don’t be surprised if the suffering continues and may even get worse. Just keep asking the Lord to teach you what he wants you to learn.
Psalms 119:69-70 ESV
“The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.”
I think sometimes that suffering like this hurts much worse than physical suffering because it is more personal, and it is more injurious to our hearts than may be physical suffering. Especially if it is someone close to us, or someone we know personally, or someone we thought was our friend who smears us with lies, that really stabs to the heart because it is a sin of betrayal and hate against us, and that goes deep.
I hate lies. Lies really hurt. And they hurt others, too. And if someone smears you with lies which he tells others, they may repeat the lies which many may believe, and then many people may be turned against you and hating you even though you have done them no evil. And that hurts to have people think evil of you when you have done no wrong to them. And sometimes you don’t even know this has happened.
But the whole point here is that we cannot let these types of things destroy us. We really have no control over what others say about us to others, and we have minimal control over what they may do to us, too. So, we just have to place our lives in the hands of God and trust him to work it all out for his glory and his purposes, and then we just need to keep on in doing what God has called us to do despite how others treat us in return.
And then we need to keep reminding ourselves that God is completely sovereign over our lives and that nothing can touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for his purposes, part of which are that we might learn his word and his commandments (New Covenant) and that we may apply them to our lives. So, don’t let the trials of this life take you out. Learn from them, grow from them, and keep serving the Lord to your dying day.
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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