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Psalm 119 (8)

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Introduction: Affliction seems to come in various shapes and sizes. It may be the hardship of a financial crunch. It may be the disorder of some family conflict. Perhaps it is the oppression of others who are seeking to ridicule or speak lies about us. Sometimes it may be the misery or unhappiness of our own poor decisions. Sometimes it may be the humiliation of God’s making. Affliction may be as severe as a world war, or as mild as a chest cold. Some have felt the turmoil of soul that comes from the death of a loved one, and some have been humbled by the pain of sickness or diseases. Whatever the affliction may be, how do we go about making sense of it all? Today we are going to discover from Psalm 119:65-71 (Teth) how to make sense of affliction. (READ)

Making Sense of Affliction

Transition: Four truths to help us make sense of affliction.

God is good.

Notice what the text says in verses 65 & 68.
One of the greatest temptations is to doubt the goodness of God, especially during seasons of affliction. This temptation is rooted in the original temptation in the garden of Eden. There, the enemy of God spoke to Eve and suggested that God and His word are not good. That God must be holding something back since He was prohibiting them from eating the fruit of a particular tree. Even though God had spoken about His creation that everything was very good, and so it was good for Adam and Eve to obey the Lord’s prohibition, they were tempted to doubt the goodness of God and they yielded to that temptation. The result of their sin brought the consequence of death. Just as the Lord had told them it would.
When we are faced with afflictions of various kinds they may or may not be the result of our own personal sin. However, the nature of affliction is that things are not as they ought to be. Or things are not complete or circumstances are out of sorts. The point is that as a result of original sin we all are faced with affliction. However, because God is good .... when we belong to Him the affliction is not the end. God is good and he specializes in making good out of bad.
Case in point is the good news of Jesus Christ. We had a very bad affliction of sin that we were unable to resolve. But God sent His son to suffer the consequence of our sin in our place. And so Jesus Himself was afflicted even though He was truly innocent, and He did so by dying on the cross, being buried in a borrowed tomb, but raising from the dead on the third day. And as a result of his affliction we are able to have our ultimate affliction washed away when we trust in Christ.

God’s Word is good.

Meaning: verse 66 records the request of teaching. But notice the qualifier of good judgments and knowledge. The psalmist is asking the Lord to teach Him good discernment and good understanding. His reasoning is based on the fact that he believes in the Lords commandments. His trust is in the good commands of God which are good because God s good.
He goes on then in verse 72 to say that the law of the Lord (the whole collection of God’s instructions) are good. They are so good because they come from the mouth of God. And they are better than thousands of pieces of gold and silver.
Another great caution when going through affliction is believing a wrong word that is not good. Specifically an example of this is confusing our affliction with always the result of a lack of faith. Beware of promoting the prosperity of God’s blessing at the expense of God’s written word. There is a false word today that would tell us that if we are afflicted is is because we are not full of faith. Or another way, is that if we are not have gold and silver it must be because we are unfaithful. It is the idolatry of confusing the blessing with the Blesser. The reason this is so important is because when we are faced with affliction the truth that will help us is God’s good word. It may be that the Holy Spirit uses the good word from our good God to convict us or afflict us so that we will return from our wandering off. However, it may also be that our affliction is a result of our faithfulness. This brings us to our third truth that helps us make sense of affliction.

The reality of affliction is humbling.

Listen again to what the Psalmist reveals in verses 69 & 70.
Sometimes folks get the notion that affliction is just a mirage of our own making. We only see the world through rose colored glasses and deny that anything is ever wrong or that evil actually exists.
The reality is that even those who belong to Christ and are adopted as sons or daughters of God will experience affliction. We live in a world that currently under a curse. We also live in bodies that are not yet glorified. The reality is that affliction is a normal part of the Christian life. We are faced with the consequences of Adam’s sin every day. We do not despair over this reality but neither do we dismiss it. Follow with me as I read a portion from Romans 8:18-25
Romans 8:18–25 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Transition: Now notice our fourth truth to help us make sense of affliction from verses 67 and 71.

The result of affliction is good.

Verses 67 shows us that when affliction turns us from our wondering ways is a good result.
Illustration: In this way affliction proves to be a very helpful part of our lives, much like an electric fence is for pets or livestock. When we put up an electric fence for our cows we do so to keep them within the boundaries of what is good for them. And when they seek to go astray from those boundaries the fence will give them a jolt of affliction in order to teach them what is best. So it is with us. We may wander away from a good God and His good word and so He graciously gives us a jolt in order to teach us what is good and best for our lives.
Direct application to those who are not yet believers. The affliction of conviction of sin is a gracious and good way that God lovingly turns us to Christ. Maybe in this moment you are being sensitized to the affliction that sin has caused between you and God. Perhaps you are even feeling very sorry for your sins. This is God graciously awakening you to the truth that Christ has died for your sins and raised from the dead so that you might trust in Him today!
Not only that, but also notice what we discover in verse 71. (Read) This is quite a confrontation of our usual definition of what is good. But notice the result of the good affliction. It is that he might learn the Lord’s statutes. And so it is for those who are in Christ. Those who are believers will often experience affliction in order to sanctify us, or grow us in the awesome word of God. This is good for us, because without the affliction often time we grow very complacent in our spiritual growth. We may become content with silver and gold, or the comforts of God’s blessing and neglect to grow in our great salvation. Affliction startles us out of spiritual stagnation, and is good for us because it creates space for our hearts and mind to learn the truth of God’s good Word.
Conclusion: Are you afflicted today? Please consider that it may be the grace of a Good God awakening you to trust is Christ. Are you a Christian faced with affliction today? Don’t loose heart! We can make sense of real affliction because our Good God is using His good Word to bring about the results of an eternal weight of glory. Listen to the words of II Corinthians 4:16-18
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV
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, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
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