Nobody’s looking for troubles. To avoid sorrow and suffering, if it were possible, might well be on everyone’s to do list. Hardship and hurt aren’t things we pencil into our calendars — rarely are they predictable, never do they wait until it’s convenient. Yet, we know they’ll come. And while we also know there will be a cost, I’m reminded this morning by the songwriter that there’s always a benefit.
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. 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.
(Psalm 119:65-67, 71 ESV)
To the extent that afflictions compel us to seek the LORD and His word, it is good for me.
It starts with what we believe. That the God who redeemed us and rescued us will deal well with us. Not because of our merit, but because of His sovereign purposes and His steadfast love. And we believe in His word, His commandments, His statutes and precepts. They are the words of life for all of life — the good life and the hard life.
Thus, when we are afflicted, when the going gets tough, to the degree it drives us to a God who deals well with us, and to His word which is life for us, it is good.
Not sure where I heard it first, but I am more convinced now than ever that Winston Churchill was right on the money when he said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” A crisis has a way of reminding us of how little of life we actually control and that we need to place ourselves in the shadow of the One who controls all things. Afflictions remind us of our need and dependence, that our weakness is the perfect platform for God’s strength to be known. When the heat gets turned up it acts as a crucible for the things of the heart, impurities come to the surface. If we will turn to the LORD, believe His word, and repent of our sin, hard times can be purifying times.
There’s always a benefit when we take the Word that we know in our head and, by faith, apply it and watch it become a living and active, operative dynamic in our lives. We know experientially His presence. We know experientially His power. We know experientially the reality of the gospel as, by faith, we realize the transforming impact of a blood-stained cross, an empty tomb, and Christ in us.
You are good and do good; teach me Your statutes.
(Psalm 119:68 ESV)
God is good. God does good. I believe that. That’s why I ask Him to continue to teach me His ways. That’s why, though I’m not a fan of hardship per se, the classroom of afflictions is not only expected, but can even be a cause for joy (James 1:2-4) as the Father teaches me, renews my mind, and conforms me more into the image of His Son.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.
There’s always a benefit. Mine is to have ears to hear, eyes to see, a heart to receive.
By His grace. For His glory.