I was very worn. Two full weeks of respiratory infection was really discouraging. As anyone with chronic fatigue or chronic illness can attest, the emotional strain of constantly battling can be just as defeating as the fatigue or illness itself. The two stanzas of Psalm 119 that we’re studying this week really challenged me to see my affliction in a different light. It has been hard to put this post together because its often difficult to think of affliction as good when you’re in the midst of it. But, God is using this to continually renew my mind (Romans 12:1-2). So, with no further ado, let’s dig in.
Teth & Yodh (Psalm 119:65-80)
The Psalmist begins both of these stanzas with the acknowledgement that God is the Creator and He is all-knowing. Time and again the Psalmist has shown us that obedience to the Lord’s ways is far superior and much more rewarding than seeking comfort in worldly ways. Like the Psalmist then, we should begin with that type of praise to the Lord. And, there is great comfort to be found in aligning our priorities with God’s heart. But these stanzas do more than praise God for His wisdom in creation, they thank Him for His correcting of our paths. This is where the verses really began to dig into me.
During a particularly difficult day not long ago I was reminded that Jesus lamented his physical pain and suffering, too. In the garden of Gethsemane, on the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus prayed:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. […] And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” -Luke 22:42, 44.
Jesus was so distressed that he actually sweated blood. But, his trust was so deep that he chose obedience to God’s will rather than his own fleshly desire to avoid the pain.
How deep is my love and trust of the Lord? Can I bring myself to pray His will over my own? The answer is yes, but could not be without first knowing of God’s profound love for me. That’s what this chronic fatigue and illness has done for me. I am much more aware of His abiding love for me personally than I ever was before. So much am I aware of this that I’m beginning to look at my affliction as an instrument of God’s instruction for me.
We’re told in Hebrews that, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).” If its that peaceful fruit of righteousness that I’m after, then why wouldn’t I expect to be tested? In that same discourse in Hebrews, the author also exhorts his readers to remember that we are sons of God:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Hebrews 12:5b-6).”
So while our circumstances may not be ideal, remember that God is sovereign over all; He may be allowing your affliction for your benefit in His kingdom. This is something we should all be praying over ourselves – Lord, what fruit are You harvesting because of this?
The author of Psalm 119 knew the correction that God can bring through affliction. In verse 67 he writes, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Immediately following – as if reminding us of the good in the Lord’s discipline – he writes, “[God is] good and [does] good (v. 68).” This same pattern of adversity leading to righteousness is also found two verses later: Verse 71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your decrees.” Verse 72 follows with, “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” In other words, God’s will is better than anything.
A similar pattern is found in verses 75 through 77, but with a little twist. Verse 75 is a beautiful confession of God’s righteousness and His faithfulness to us. Moreover, the Psalmist feels so strongly that God has dealt well with him through affliction that he considers affliction evidence of God’s faithfulness to him. But he also knows that the process isn’t always easy. Verses 76 and 77 are heartfelt prayers to the Lord:
God promises to forever be faithful to us. His love is unfailing and so deep that He gave us Jesus to be the ultimate reconciliation for us, which means we share in fellowship with the Father through the Son (John 14:21-23). With these promises – and many others – we can rest assured in our ultimate home, heaven. Also, we can trust the Lord’s compassion to ease the emotional strain, if not also the physical affliction.
Let’s end with the knowledge that God is compassionate to us, His heirs with Christ:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” -2 Corinthians 1:3-5