Journal Ps 119:73-96 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let your steadfast love comfort me (according to your promise to your servant). Let your mercy come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight….as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me that they may know your testimonies…May my heart be blameless in your statutes…” excerpts from Ps 119:74-80
Observation: Affliction as a faithful action by God towards me: that’s not the way I usually think of affliction.
Analysis: As a point of analysis of the Gospel, why does affliction happen?
I typically want to assign affliction as an attack of the enemy. It is also a result of the degradation of the flesh because of Sin—disease and stuff increase over time (years, generations, centuries…) because of Sin. I can’t get around that fact. It is the theological equivalent of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy—fire gets cooler, not hotter. Ice melts. Metals rust. Plants turn to compost. People get old, not younger. (see Ro 8:20)
While affliction can be an attack of the enemy, it is never an independent, unilateral attack. I must refer to Job 1 through 3 to get a glimpse into that process. The singular foundational thought that must predominate in any analysis (what I am thinking) is that God is totally and absolutely Sovereign in all of Creation and nothing is done without Him involved—even attacks by the enemy.
But then, if affliction reflects God’s faithfulness, then why?
I see two reasons found in this selection of Scripture:
- Affliction focuses my hope, reliance, and dependence on God, and;
- I become a walking, talking testimony of God’s faithfulness.
It is difficult to consider the upside in affliction. When I hurt, I hurt. When my wife hurts, she hurts, and I hurt for her. How do I cope with that knowledge? I had a situation recently where a couple lost a child in pregnancy. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” was asked. Theologically, I know the answer. It was difficult to testify of the Goodness when considering goodness was far from their minds.
I wish I had a good answer. I am getting there, day by day, because of spending time in trying to further understand the Gospel from beginning to End and all the branches and facets that are irrevocably part of the Gospel—like affliction.
I figure when I can speak firmly of my Hope while streaming tears of pain and sorrow yet full of joy and worship, I will have done well…
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I will never know Your pain and suffering. How expansive it must have been, and I have sorrow with a boo-boo on my shin.
The trap of comparison is fully on display in my statement. My light and momentary affliction can NEVER be compared to Yours. It is not the amount of pain I experience instead of Yours; it is how I draw near to the Father, fully convinced in my heart of the Hope.
Help me yield my heart daily to You, O Lord. AMEN