Another Tuesday and what a busy day it’s been. I’ve been trying to get to this post for a few hours and there seemed to be no end of unexpected interruptions. But here we are, so let’s look at the next section of Psalm 119
You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as You promised.
I believe in Your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge.
I used to wander off until You disciplined me; but now I closely follow Your word.
You are good and You only do good; teach me Your decrees.
Arrogant people smear me with lies, but in truth I obey Your commandments with all my heart.
Their hearts are dull and stupid, but I delight in Your instructions.
My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.
Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.
Psalm 119: 65- 72
With a burst of gratitude the psalmist begins this section, acknowledging all of the blessings of God in his life. Gratitude is one of the most powerful of character traits and saves us from complaining, negativism and depression. To wake each morning, thankful for a new day, thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great is to awaken with a grateful heart, ready to do His will.
There is an important life lesson that follows. The psalmist declares that on his own he had wandered away from God’s ways but he is thankful that God’s discipline brought him back to right living. The word ‘discipline’ can conjure up negative thoughts but in reality, when God is the One disciplining, it is always – always – an act of His love. At the time, being disciplined by God may seem difficult but when it brings us to a place of humility and repentance, the fruit of that discipline is indeed priceless, for we draw closer to Him through it.
David asserts that all that God does is good and through everything He allows into our lives He is teaching us. In fact he goes so far as to say that his suffering was ‘good for me’. It takes some maturity to recognize that and to publicly admit it.
Suffering – whatever form it takes – can make us bitter or better: the choice is ours. I have known people – and you probably have, too – whose self-centered attitude blinds them to the power of forgiveness and humility. On the other hand, I know some – and you do, too – whose suffering has brought them forth like ‘gold tried in the fire.’ They are sweeter, kinder, more compassionate, more humble not in spite of but because of their suffering. Such men and women are precious in God’s sight and often in ours. They exemplify the best of virtue and courage in a world deeply needing such role models.
‘Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls,’ someone has written, ‘the most massive characters are seared with scars.’
This week let us ask ourselves: Have I allowed the difficult things I’ve experienced or any suffering I’ve endured to make me a better person? Do I harbor deep-seated resentments, a proverbial ‘chip on my shoulder’, hatred or jealousy?
Whatever you might describe as ‘suffering’, settle the question that difficult times are part of everyone’s life. No one is immune and every trial, challenge, humiliation, or pain carries within it the opportunity for greatness.
It’s up to us to turn to God in times like these, seek His help, His wisdom, His understanding and most of all, His grace to see us through to a spiritually positive conclusion of the matter. The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat pain and suffering; it gives us guidance on how to navigate through it.
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