Thursday, December 06, 2012
Today’s Topic: Surviving Affliction
Today’s Text: Psalm 119:89-93 (ESV) 89 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. 91 By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants. 92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
There’s that word again. It’s showing up as frequently as automobiles do that are the same color as the one you just bought. This is the fifth time so far in the one-hundred-nineteenth Psalm that it has appeared. I discovered that it will be used two more times before the chapter is over, but I’m not up to those occurrences yet. The usage of the word up to this point is what contains the challenge and blessing for me.
If you read the title of today’s Connecting Points you already know the word. (I’ll wait as eyes flash back to the top of the page to see what it is.) It’s a word that describes life for our family over the past two months. It’s a word that describes the current delivery method of God’s grace to my heart and has produced deeper intimacy with the Lord. We generally seek to avoid the conditions covered by this word, but I am discovering the incredible gift of love from God that comes with those conditions. The word, and the condition, is affliction.
Let’s review the incredible promises the Psalmist has delivered to us so far for our times of affliction.
Psalm 119:50 (ESV) This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:67 (ESV) Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
Psalm 119:71 (ESV) It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
Psalm 119:75 (ESV) I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psalm 119:92 (ESV) If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
Five times the Psalmist refers to affliction, and every time there’s an incredible promise attached:
- The promises of God give comfort to us during affliction because in them are found true life. Life is not found in the temporal, but in the eternal, and when affliction comes it is God’s design to teach us to fix our eyes more on the eternal and less on the temporal.
- Affliction is also designed by God to correct us. We all need correction. None of us is walking perfectly with the Lord by faith alone. It is in the afflictions that the Holy Spirit convicts us of any cause that might be our own, and leads us to a deeper obedience of the commands of God that we already know.
- In addition to more obedience of the commands we already know, affliction causes us to learn even more of the statutes of the Lord. It is in the times of deepest need that we come to know the deeper things of God. That’s what Psalm 42:7 says when the waves of affliction are breaking over us – Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
- Affliction also reveals the character of God. In his faithfulness He has afflicted us. He is faithful to Himself to express every aspect of true love, for He is love, and in love He disciplines those He loves. He is faithful to us by working to cleanse from us everything that hinders our perfect fellowship with Him and to create in us a pure heart and clean hands. Affliction is the purifying fire of faith.
- Then today, the relationship between affliction and the Word of God becomes even more clear as I digest the truth that affliction can lead to death if not for the delight found in God’s words. You see, the stress of affliction can cause serious physical consequences. Worry can cause not only physical disease but emotional despair. Heartbreak can become permanent. If our hearts and minds are fixed on the affliction then the affliction will defeat and potentially destroy us. But if our hearts and minds are firmly fixed on the Word of God, the delight it produces will give us life. There is hope to be found in the law of the Lord that cannot be found from any other source. There is joy to be found that surpasses any earthly joy and conquers all earthly fears. There is love to be found in the abiding presence of Christ that supplies every need of our heart – from identity to acceptance – and that is the fulfillment of life.
I know I would be a basket case without my Lord and His Word. But His law is my delight, and I am ALIVE!!!