November 8, 2012

Psalm 119:67, 71 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.

Right here we have another answer to the perennial question of why bad things happen to good people. In the first place, no one is fully good. (Romans 3:10) There are degrees of evil, but no one is without their blind spots, their places of ignoring or actively disobeying God. With that out of the way, we have this passage. It is a blessed thing when we realize that what we have gone through has drawn us closer to God! I like the Japanese expression in these verses as opposed to the English. Where the English says, “be afflicted,” the Japanese says, “encounter suffering.” That makes verse 71 come out as, “It was happiness for me to encounter suffering.” That brings to mind Paul’s famous statement in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that “ I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” Paul was not a masochist, he just knew that temporal problems can bring the eternal reward of closeness to God. That’s not at all to say that all suffering has this result; it’s a matter of our response to it. If we just get angry at God, then it drives us further from Him. How­ever, all suffering has the potential of opening our eyes to our need of God, and that’s why He allows it. God is not a sadist! As a card on our refrigerator says, “Everything God does is love, even when we don’t recognize it.”

This is very timely, considering how stirred up and depressed I was at the results of the US election. This probably will usher in a time of great turmoil and suffering for the US, and I do grieve for that, but I need to be praying for people’s response to the suffering. I do not know how this will all play out, but many have been saying for a long time that the American Church was in need of persecution to cleanse it of the absurd junk that has accumulated over the years. This could well be that time! I am to keep walking in personal obedience and devotion, allowing God to use me in prayer, speech, and activities, and trusting Him with everything. Even as I was so upset yesterday I recognized that I was having a failure of trust. Early this morning, before I got out of bed, the chorus, “This is the Day that the Lord has Made” was running through my head, and the Lord was reminding me that He makes each day, and that we are by faith to rejoice and be glad in each day, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this clear, strong reminder. I do pray Your grace and mercy for America, and I thank You that what has happened is an example of that, whatever it looks like. I pray that Your children would continue to wake up more and more, so that as the dark gets darker, the light would indeed get brighter, bringing many from playing with Christianity to a genuine relationship with You. I ask You to strengthen the genuine Christians against the persecution that will doubtless come, so that they will be able to say with Paul, and the Psalmist, “It was happiness for me to encounter suffering.” Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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