Perspectives on Suffering from Psalm 119
Suffering is a test. Will we be spiritually stronger for it, weakened by it, or left the same as we were before?
The theme of Psalm 119 is the glory of God’s word. What can we learn from the psalmist’s experience that can give us a clearer perspective on suffering?
1) Suffering helps cure the sin habit. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (v. 67 NASB).
2) Suffering can motivate us to be more attentive to Bible study. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (v. 71).
3) Suffering is bearable when we love the word of God. “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction” (v. 92).
4) Suffering is eased by the reviving power of God’s word. “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me” (v. 50).
These passages show the mutual interaction between trials and the Scriptures. Suffering can motivate us to obey God’s word; God’s word can strengthen us when we suffer. These benefits are available to all who take advantage of them. How unfortunate it is if we fail to learn from suffering or to seek the strength God’s word offers us!
How much of God’s word did the psalmist have? Perhaps no more than the first five books of the Old Testament. Yet he found great help in what he had.
We who have the complete Bible have even more reason to affirm what he psalmist says about the relation of God’s word to suffering. We have the Big Picture—he didn’t.
What must it be like to suffer without the benefits of the Bible? What is it like to hurt without the assurance of a God who loves us? To cry in the darkness without the light of Christ’s promises? To undergo anguish without the comfort of the Scriptures?
Thank God we don’t have to be in that predicament! So let’s make the most of both suffering and the Scriptures and find the victory that comes to “those also who suffer according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:19).