PSALM 119:71 – It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
THEME OF THE DAY. REACHING HEIGHTS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY. The Bible gives us much evidence to affirm we are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus toward spiritual maturity. Here are a few; increased love for other Christians manifested by self-denying lives; deepening of humility seen in our refusal to trust our own understanding; development of self-discipline in refusing to give into the desires of the flesh; and consuming love for Christ by a progressive life of obedience to His commands. But there is another piece of evidence verifying our level of spiritual maturity, and it is near the top of the list. It is in our response to suffering.
Let’s see how we are doing. What is our initial response when suffering comes into our lives? How about our attitudes when a trial goes on and on and on? Then what about those times when God seems far away, our prayers unanswered, and circumstances feel unbearable? I am not sure all of us would be able to quote today’s scripture saying, “That’s me. I see everything, even the painful everythings in my life, as good and purposeful.” Actually, if we are brutally honest, we might need a little confession time and say, “I am not there. I am quicker to murmur and complain when suffering comes, or difficulties rise up in my life.” But add to this confession the prayer, “Lord, I want to respond to the suffering times in my life like the Psalmist”, then be willing to learn what is necessary to help us respond like the Psalmist.
First, we must believe all things are under the guiding control of God. Nothing is by chance, all things, including our suffering, unfold from His sovereignty. Now don’t try to figure this out. Simply trust it is so because the Bible says it is so – In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11). The Psalmist learned this truth. To be able to say “It is good for me that I was afflicted” means he reconciled in his heart that since God is good, always good, and God is sovereign, always sovereign, then everything from Him, including his suffering, must be good. We, too, must always link God’s character with what is happening to us. If we don’t, if we build our image of God based on our feelings in difficult circumstances, we won’t see anything good in our suffering nor will we see God as good.
Second lesson to help us respond to suffering as a spiritually mature believer is to keep in our minds the end goal of all suffering and pain. It is to learn the Word of God to obey the God of the Word. See this truth in the Psalmist’s heart – It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. God created us to love Him by obeying Him. After sin entered the world, we lost both the desire and ability to do so. Yet, God’s love in Christ restored both. And to teach us this life of obedience, God has chosen suffering to do so. How so? By chastisement or discipline. In the affliction God brings into our lives by His correcting hand, we see that a life of obedience is best for us. Suffering does that. It causes us to see God afresh and His ways best. And when this awareness starts to become real, we will look back in a spiritually mature manner and say, “It is good for me to be afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”
PRAYER: “Father, may I learn to see Your ways, even painful ways, are always good because You are good.”
QUOTE: “When we can gladly praise the Lord in ‘easy’ times as well as suffering times, maturity marks us.”