Psalm 119 obviously filled me with a lot of thoughts. It’s a good chapter – long, easy to read, and filled with verses that make you go “Uhm, David, what were you smoking and will you please share some of it with me?”
Here are the verses that hit me the most with that “God, what are you saying? I want to believe this and I do but it’s time to wrestle some and please don’t make me cry” feelings: (Oh… I’m the only one that gets that very specific feeling when reading the Bible? ….cool)
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
I struggle with my testimony. Most of it I can share easily. I could write it all out here and share it with the public if I wanted to. But some of it, honestly probably the most powerful parts of it, I struggle with sharing. I struggle with shame and fear about what people will think. And I sure as hell have never shared about it on here.
It’s a testimony filled with bad decisions and ignoring the Lord and the advice of those who love me. It’s a testimony that ends with a deep brokenness I don’t want anyone to feel. Filled with pain and heartache and shame. It’s hard to share and hard to re-live and hard to talk about.
But when I read verse 71, the Holy Spirit stopped me, pulled me away from the page, and reminded me about those moments of my life.
He told me that this is a new way to look at my testimony. That it is good I went through everything that I did because I got to learn from it and I got to learn what God had for me, what His laws were, and how He wanted me to live.
I saw His goodness and faithfulness when He got me out of that life, but seeing his goodness and faithfulness in the midst of those afflictions is a completely different thing.
Then He let me return to the page only to stop me again at verse 75, which I’m going to repeat again here: “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
He is always and forever faithful. And proof of His faithfulness is in our pain, our sickness, out suffering, and our afflictions. He is not faithful in spite of these things, He is faithful because of them. We see proof of His faithfulness when these things occur.
Suffering exists every day and we are not only going to endure it, but we are called to lean into it.
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name,”
1 Peter 4:15
I hadn’t thought before that people would ever be ashamed in their suffering because usually it’s not a person’s fault that they are suffering. But then I remembered that sometimes it is. The main things I’ve been suffering from recently are direct effects of the sin and choices I made 2-4 years ago. And yet I’m called to glorify God, not be ashamed, which is what I’ve been doing for the last two years. I live in a state of shame because of this suffering but I should be glorifying God, which is a huge self-revelation.
When I think of my afflictions, I think of that pain I feel and I felt because of my testimony, because of the stupid decisions I’ve made.
So, it becomes easier to see His faithfulness in that. I know He was faithful because He let me feel that pain so I would run back to Him and joyfully accept His truth, His word, His law.
But what about the afflictions that we cannot see direct correlations to our sin? Like my dad in his coma last year.
But I think we can explain that one easily too. I know He is faithful because He let my dad get sick and then He healed Him. As a family, we got to see hundreds and thousands of lives affected by that story. We saw the Kingdom of God move. In the midst of my dad’s coma, we saw His faithfulness in the Kingdom.
But what about other afflictions? Sicknesses that aren’t healed? Pain that isn’t explained? Losses and death? What about the pain we don’t think we deserve? (Though, what we truly deserve is death. We don’t deserve grace and mercy and love.)
And yet… “in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
In God’s perfect faithfulness, we see affliction in this world.
Time to wrestle.