Our suffering is producing something in us that it is not in the unbeliever. We are being sanctified and used as a vessel to reveal the warning of eternal suffering. But we also, through our joy in suffering, reveal the greater possession of Christ and the hope we have in eternity. Suffering doesn’t prevent God’s Kingdom from being built, but rather is used graciously by our Sovereign God in order to fulfill His purposes. And this is good. The believer never focuses on what he is losing in suffering, but rather what he cannot lose.
Hardened, shriveled, shrunken and charred – that’s what the smoke of a fire produces. The refiner’s fire can get pretty hot, but what a glorious product it promises. How is the refiner’s fire working on you this year? Do you feel like a shriveled-up raisin lately, always under the heat of the sun? You may be thinking the same thing that the Psalmist is thinking in verse 84: How long must I endure this? If so, glorify God, because there’s a beautiful underlying assumption in that question that I want to draw your attention to..
In prolonged seasons of trial it can become easy to grow weary. In our discouragement we can begin to wonder if our prayers are being heard. We can drift into complaining and negativity that, if left unchecked, can give way to a distorted view of God. When discouragement becomes the lens through which we view our lives, we might even question if God can be trusted for His promises. It is then that we must, as the Psalmist does throughout Psalm 119, combat our feelings of hopelessness with the truth of God’s Word, particularly as it declares His trustworthiness.
Who do you perceive God to be? In his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” A.W. Tozer famously observed, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
Perhaps you are experiencing a momentary disappointment or what seems to be an unending season of trial. By God’s grace, resist the temptation to allow your circumstances to interpret who God is for you. Instead, pray that God would grant you grace to abide and delight in the knowledge of who the Sovereign, eternal Creator has revealed Himself to be in His Word. And, as His servant, receive the comfort He has promised in Christ.
Affliction Is not a word that we normally think on or equate with ‘good.’ This verse is startling because the psalmist says that he was afflicted and it is good for him. The affliction here was in the past, and in this backward look the psalmist sees that it yielded something for his present, and future. ‘It is good for me’ he says. How can affliction be good? 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says it this way, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
The psalmist knew the importance of prioritizing time spent in God’s word as a way to keep him from wandering. At first glance on the word “astray” in verse 67, it might appear as though he had strayed from God in an act of willful rebellion. However, the Hebrew word translated astray here (shagag) means “ to commit an error, to sin inadvertently.” In other words, the psalmist was unaware that he was straying. But God, in His immeasurable grace, allowed a humbling of some kind to awaken him to his wandering and his need to return to his Creator.