Have you ever grumbled to the Lord about things that are happening in your life? Someone else gets the promotion you expected to get. You sprain your ankle, ending your soccer season. The transmission goes in your car. Your favourite piece of technology was stolen. Your house deal falls through. A courtship is called off.

Don’t just shrug your shoulders and say: “Oh well, I guess it’s the luck of the draw.” Or, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be….” Or, “What else is new?!! Nothing ever works out for me!”  Or, “We all take our hits, so I’ll just grin and bear it.”

Whoever wrote Psalm 119 had just been bumped around in some enroute turbulence. He had been afflicted and humbled in some way. He encountered a bumpy section along life’s highway. But, when he got alone with God, here’s what he wrote:

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word… It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes… I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.  (Psalm 119:67,71,75)

“Before all that stuff happened,” the Psalmist said, “I was getting off track…”

I wonder in what way he was going astray? Was he spending less time alone with God? Getting too independent? Forging ahead with his own plans? Hanging out with someone who would ruin him spiritually? Reading stuff that would defile his mind? Flirting with some dubious theology? Failing to move forward for the Lord in the path of obedience?

The Psalmist didn’t just dismiss the affliction as bad luck or mere coincidence. It’s obvious he got alone with the Lord and probably prayed like this:

“Lord, this has happened. I’m feeling the pain of it all and I don’t like it.  It hurts. I can’t keep back the tears and sometimes I get upset with You for allowing my life to be like this. But Your purposes are far higher than mine and Your wisdom is always right. During this time, I want to be drawn closer to You. I want to come out of this a better Christian – not a bitter one. I want to be a better worshipper. I want to be more submissive and of greater usefulness to You. So, please Lord, work in my life to make me the Christian I should be.”

God allows things to happen for a number of reasons, but the focus of this Bible Bite is discipline. Memorize this verse and think about it: “For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  (Hebrews 12:11)

The pain hurts. None of us clap our hands with joy when the world is crashing in around us; but, it helps knowing there is a purpose. (Romans 5:1-5) We will become more Christ-like in our character if we look to the Lord to shape us, train us and sustain us in the storm. But if we, with a stiff upper lip, just stoically plow through the rough spots, with a stubborn refusal to look-up, we will grow bitter – not better.

“Lord, help me to understand that when You allow pain in my life, it is for my gain and Your glory.”

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

Micah Hackett – Not Afraid to Die at 19

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