You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me, but I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease, but I delight in Your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver. (Psalm 119:65-72)
Learning From Affliction
Pain is proof that life exists. God created the body to experience pain to protect it from harm. When a hand touches a hot stove, it reacts immediately with the nerves screaming to the brain to stop. Without the function of pain, the boy would be harmed. The experience of pain is never desired but it serves a purpose.
When God created Adam and Eve, He infused the body with the nerves that would serve as the defense against harm. In the beginning, there was nothing to fear because there was nothing to harm the body. Sin changed that. As a result of man’s disobedience, pain and suffering came upon all humanity. Physical, emotional and spiritual suffering overshadowed the life of humanity and affliction was the common lot of man. Sadly, it would take the greatest suffering by the greatest sacrifice of the greatest man to save men from the fear of pain. Jesus became a man to experience the death of the cross, not to take away the affliction of the body, but to give hope for suffering man. Affliction did not end with the resurrection of Jesus. His suffering gave all men an answer to the burdens of life so they could face the uncertainties of life with hope and promise.
The psalmist sought to understand the word of God. He acknowledged that life was filled with affliction but that God had done many good things for him, just as the Lord promised. Facing the difficulties of life was not an easy part to accept but the psalmist found comfort in the word of the Lord. It would seem the most unlikely place to find comfort for many people but to face adversity is best done with the knowledge of God’s word. He knows the Creator has the answers to suffering. Delighting in the instructions of a kind and benevolent Father is where true comfort comes.
One of the amazing parts of seeking the counsel of God is to know that adversity is a good thing. The psalmist says that suffering was good for him and it taught him to pay attention to the teachings of the Lord. Sorrow can drive a heart away from God or it can draw the spirit closer to the only source of hope there is. Understanding the word of God gives hope, promise, truth, and clarity to adversity. It may not take away the pain but it calms the spirit with the presence of God. The storms of life can rage with great fury and the Lord can calm the storm or He can allow the storms to continue and calm the heart of the child. Knowing the word of the Lord will illuminate this peace that passes all understanding.
The world is in a distress unimagined in the history of humanity. There have been similar pandemics such as the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu but in the generations of all who live today, the adversity of the COVID-19 virus is unparalleled. Tragically, many have lost their lives. Many more have endured a terrible illness and as a result of the actions by governments seeking to limit the outbreak of the virus, economies have nearly been crippled. There is a lot of anxiety, fear, and worry in the hearts of the world. The word of God is not going to take away the virus or lessen the impact of the economic outcomes but the knowledge of the word of God will help to see life in a proper view.
Adversity is a good thing. Because of this virus, almost everything we have held dear has been taken away. The generation of those who lived through the Great Depression was a hearty group of people because the Depression changed their lives for a good purpose. Pain can bring good things and while the enduring of this virus is afflicting the world with suffering, may God’s children look through the vale of darkness and say with the psalmist, “It is good for me that I have afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”
When the virus ends and life returns to the world we once knew, do not let the lessons of these months be lost on hearts that return to the carefree and fruitless pursuits of what was taken away. Pain brings joy. Trust in God and draw closer to God to learn the value of suffering. Face reality with the word of God guiding the heart. If there is one thing that must come out of these days of affliction is to know that life does not consist of the things we have on this earth. Life is about eternity. All we have in this world is what we possess with the one who possesses us. God loves us and wants us to seek Him. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments.