Difficulty; October 1, 2020

Psalm 116:10 I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.”

I definitely prefer the Japanese translation of this verse, which the NIV gives as a footnote: “I believed even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’” Acknowledging difficulty doesn’t preclude faith! We don’t know the author of this Psalm, much less what difficulty he had experienced, but it is obvious that he thought he might well not survive the experience, and it is also obvious that he was fully committed to God. Verse 15 is the most famous line in this Psalm: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” That doesn’t mean it is something He desires, it means it is something He takes very seriously. Suffering and death are part of the human condition on this fallen earth, but they aren’t the end of the story, nor the most important part. Our time on this earth is an opportunity to discover our Creator and come into a right relationship with Him, and then to turn around and help others do the same. It is when we do that, that we come into the category of “saints” mentioned in verse 15. I find I am very frequently telling people that God doesn’t pick on us; He only allows suffering in our lives to cause us to recognize that we can’t go it alone and so reach out to Him. Jesus put it this way: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Acknowledging that we’re having a tough time of it isn’t the same as turning our back on God. Jesus said rather bluntly that apart from Him we can do nothing, (John 15:5) but as Paul discovered, we can do everything we are called on to do when we are abiding in Christ. (Philippians 4:13) History, and not just the Bible, is filled with examples of people who were indeed overcomers, even all the way to martyrdom. In His messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3 Jesus repeatedly uses the phrase, “he who overcomes.” It is when we honestly acknowledge our troubles and commit them to God that we indeed overcome, and that is a blessing indeed.

As I have indicated repeatedly, I don’t consider my current situation of having had a basal cell carcinoma removed, and then had a skin graft to patch the hole left behind, to have been a major trouble. It has certainly intruded on my schedule and it is costing me some money, but here in the hospital I see many people in much more serious and/or painful situations. I have had some marvelous opportunities to share the reality of a living Savior with four other patients, as well as generally spread “the aroma of Christ,” and that has certainly been worth what I have had to endure. That’s not at all to say I’m not delighted to be getting out of the hospital today! However, it is to say that I am once again reminded that God’s plans are always higher than ours, (Isaiah 55:8-9) and they are always good. (Jeremiah 29:11) Difficulties are never an excuse not to believe!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the four men with whom I have had the privilege of sharing my experience of You and Your salvation. I do pray that Your words through me would continue to work in their hearts and minds, drawing them to seek you and repent and believe for their salvation. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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