Prayed with a friend after second service yesterday. She updated Sue and I on the latest details concerning a trial her and her husband have been undergoing for some time now. And it’s not like encountering this trial has been some unique experience for them. Over the past several years, almost for as long as we have known them, it seems they have transitioned from one fiery furnace to another. But what has been so encouraging is that these furnaces have proven again and again to be crucibles where their faith has been refined and “the gold” of trust and joy has been evident even amidst the pressure toward giving up and despair. This friend came to mind as a I was reading this morning.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. . . .
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
(Psalm 119:67, 71-72 ESV)
To be afflicted. To be troubled. To suffer. To be bowed down under great pressure. Nobody’s going to sign up for that. But how many have testified of the songwriter’s experience? That out of such trouble came a connection with the God of heaven that might never have been known in any other way.
When you’re pushed to the ground there’s no place to look but up. When you’ve exhausted all your resources you find yourself turning to the Source of inexhaustible resource. When you’ve reached your limit your ready to cry out to Him who is without limit. When you’re weary and heavy laden you’re primed to seek refuge in the One who said, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
Even as she shared how a bad situation was getting worse, even as she related some of the mental games the enemy is playing with her, this friend of ours also spoke of how God’s word is speaking to her. Of how God’s Spirit is moving in her to release everything to “not my will but Thine be done.” Of God’s promises shoring up within her the hope which is found beyond how a particular situation plays out. In this umpteenth trial of theirs over these past few years, we continue to see God’s perfecting work in her life as fruit is born through God’s power for God’s glory.
Not that the trial in and of itself is good. But that our God, in and of Himself, is good.
You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.
(Psalm 119:68 ESV)
Trials aren’t unique to this friend of ours. In fact, many in our group of friends are undergoing one or more hard things, either personally or within their families. But as we pray together and wait on God together we are encouraged by one another. We see the peace that passes understanding envelope people in trials which naturally would want to make you scream. We see the Spirit directing eyes and minds on things above, putting the hardships of here and now in the greater eternal context of there and then. We see joy where naturally there should only be sorrow. We hear singing where one might expect wailing.
As I think about it, in a way misery loves company.
Not that we wallow in sorrow and self-pity together, but that we are encouraged as we see in others real faith playing out on the stage of real life. As we see supernatural responses in one another amidst our natural disasters. As we draw upon the written word of God and encounter the living Word of God in ways we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. As we know together the reality of the psalmist’s declaration, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.”
Misery loves company. Loves the company of others as we encourage each other and behold God’s working in each other. Loves the company of Him who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Loves the company of Him who has sealed us and lives in us to empower us. Loves the company of Him who lives His life through us, intercedes ever for us, and is, even now, preparing a place in which to receive us.
All through God’s abundant grace. All for God’s everlasting glory.