What does the Bible say about the times when things go wrong?
Sep 6th, 2009 / Salt and Light
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. Psalm 119:75–76—NKJV
Did you ever build something out of a deck of cards? I wasn’t good enough to try to build a house of cards, but I did build a few multi-story bridges in my time. What a feeling of accomplishment when the last card stayed in place, and the structure stood long enough to be admired by others!
As often happens with the house of cards, our lives tend to unravel despite our most meticulously light touch. Levels of thoughtful design begin to fall like dominoes despite our quickness of hand. When the dust finally settles, we struggle to salvage the pieces somewhat left intact. Sometimes we ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” In our Psalm, God gives us a gracious answer which encourages us to get back to building.
Our text is the “Romans 8:28–30” of the Old Testament. For the authentically born-again there is instruction in the midst of the rubble and reassuring comfort when the Almighty seemingly acts against him. “…All things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.”
The author of Psalm 119 states a lesson he has learned about God from God’s Word. God disciplines His own for their good. One of the great guiding influences of God upon our lives is His fatherly discipline. His discipline sometimes must take the form of corrective influences exerted upon us when we step out of His loving will. Verses 67 and 68 states, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes.” No loving parent allows his child to go astray without exerting instruction to cause correction. The child of God can perceive God’s intervention as causing the house of cards to teeter. Yet the Scriptures teach us that God does not act upon the believer except it be out of love. His hand may appear to be heavy and sometimes can feel reckless to us for we are looking only at the “cards” of our plans. We see this as “affliction” or human suffering, things going wrong.
The Psalmist states what he has learned by heart (verse 71, “It is good that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes”): God judges rightly. God will always bring matters to the right conclusion, and in the light of the “eternal day,” God’s actions will only be seen to be right. That is loving justice, to judge justly in a matter and render His decisions in complete conformity to His holy nature and law.
The believer’s seasons of afflictions are always accompanied by what the psalmist calls God’s “faithfulness.” The word means “to support, to bear.” God will move in chastening ways toward His beloved child, but always does so while supporting him and bearing him up in the trial. The next verse (76) tells us that this divine support is God’s free favor, here called “merciful kindness.” From the steadfast, loyal love of God the psalmist wrings much comfort in his dry season of affliction.
Without Christ your life might as well be a house of cards for He is the only sure foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). Upon Jesus Christ let us build for the tests of time as the story of the man building his house upon the rock (Matthew 7:24–27). When the hand of God moves upon us in affliction, be comforted in the assurance of His sterling lovingkindness. Make His loving-kindness the study of your lifetime and never waver in your confidence in Him. Trust and obey.