Psalm 107:15-16 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
This Psalm is a series of vignettes of people who got into deep trouble either by ignoring God or actively rebelling against Him, and how He saved them when they came to their senses and turned to Him. There are no specifics, either of people or locations, but that is deliberate, because we can all identify with one or more of these ourselves. It’s like Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) The point is not to keep ignoring God, much less run away from Him, but rather to turn to Him in humility. We’ve got to remember that God isn’t mean to us, but He allows things in our lives to mature us and teach us to rely on Him. There are lots of things that aren’t fun in the moment, but if we will respond as God desires and intends, we will discover they bring blessings we couldn’t experience any other way. Like it says in Hebrews, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) Many of the stories in the Old Testament are to teach us what not to do, along with all the stories of God’s grace and mercy. The faster and better we learn our lessons, the easier we will have it!
I feel like God has been remarkably restrained in His discipline of me, and I’m grateful. I have certainly earned some figurative spankings, but they haven’t left scars. I have also gone through some things that weren’t the result of my own misbehavior, but rather that of others. Those haven’t been fun either, but they have taught me to forgive and have matured me in various ways. There have been certain types of problems that have repeated, and I realize that generally indicates I didn’t get a “passing grade” the first time. As a school teacher myself, I’m all too familiar with re-tests! I need to seek God for His answers always, and not presume that I know how to figure things out myself. As I seek to do with my own students, He never tests me on anything He hasn’t taught me, one way or another! I am never to belittle another person’s problems, but I am to seek to help them gain perspective, and above all, to help them turn to God and receive what He desires to give them by and through their circumstances, for their blessing and His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. This year’s Christmas season is both familiar and different from past years. Help me receive each thing fresh from You, responding as You intend, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!