Tuesday, July 9, 2019

God's Sovereignty and Goodness in Adversity

"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." (Psalm 119:71)

Our Good and Sovereign God Sees What We are Blinded to
This Psalmist humbly understood both the sovereignty of God and his own sinful state. He did not rail against the Lord for having ordained difficulty, nor did he think he deserved only what he deemed as "good" from the Lord.

We are so blind to our sinful hearts, even as Christians, that we fail to see that God, our Heavenly Father, is good in ordaining trials for us. Though the trial is not pleasant, we must acknowledge that God sees our every flaw and through trials reveals those flaws and sins to us for the purpose of making us more like Christ.

The Psalmist understood this about God and about himself. He had no problem continuing to trust God, confident that His goodness was still in tact. He had no problem because he did not despise the difficulty, pointing an accusing finger back at God Who allowed that difficulty (yes, and even personally ordained it for him).

He was actually thankful that God had put the trial on him and in not struggling against that trial, the writer of this Psalm came to understand exactly what it was about his life that was not glorifying to the Lord. He saw his sin and God's working to extinguish that sin and reveal more of Himself to His child.

Likewise, Job, understood both God's goodness in ordaining great heartbreak and his need to receive it with a worshipful spirit. He told his wife, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" And we are told in the same verse that in all of his grief, Job did not sin with his lips.

Sin is Master at Hiding Itself
Do we think that we are only deserving of good things from the Lord? I think we most certainly do! We believe we are doing just fine and that we do not need correction from our God. We cannot see that sin still dwells in us and how it manifests itself, though we are no longer slaves to it because sin is no longer so open and blatant and evident to us.

And therein lies the problem with our spiritual eyesight. Our hearts, so deceitful, learn how to refine sin so that we do not see it. Sin becomes more and more adept at masquerading itself and we, all the while, are congratulating ourselves on our spiritual maturity. So when God decides we need correction, we pour out complainings and despise His sovereign care over us. We believe that we should be given some award for having come so far in our faith.

Our Father Knows Best
May we refuse to think this way. God forbid that we remain in our blinded state. We must learn to say, like the Psalmist, that it is for our good that God ordains difficulties and adversity. It is for our good! We will, by understanding that our Heavenly Father is only and always good, and that we are so very, very far from good, that we need His kind corrective hand upon us at all times. Simply put, He sees and knows what we need.

A Humble Example in King David
David, also, received adversity when cursed by an ungodly man, Shimei, knowing that too was from the Lord. In 2 Samuel 16:9-11 we read, "Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, 'Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.' But the king said, 'What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’' And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, 'Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to.'"

Man Means it for Evil, but God has Purposed it for Our Good and our Joy
David was pliable before the Lord. He knew what was good for him and he trusted that the Lord would provide that "good". David even says in verse 12, "It may be that the LORD will look on the wrong done to me, and that the LORD will repay me with good from his cursing." He, like Joseph, knew that what was done to him by man was done out of a motive of evil and a desire for his demise. But David also knew that God meant it for good and He would, by His absolute sovereign power and grace, accomplish that good. That is what David expected - God's good gifts as His reward - namely God's very presence and David's own fullness of joy.

God, the Perfect Disciplinarian
Where would we be if God only gave us what we deemed as good? We would become more and more intolerably spoiled and like little children who throw temper tantrums when they don't like what mommy or daddy do.

God, as our Father, is a good disciplinarian, in fact, He is the only perfect disciplinarian. He never makes mistakes! His love for His children is flawless and all discipline flows from that gracious heart of love for us. So, may we stop despising His good and sovereign hand in His training of us. Trials, difficulties and adversity are from His loving hand, a hand that is good and kind and the difficulty is for our good, to conform us to the image of His Son.

Don't Waste Your Trial - Rather, Give Thanks
Though we do not have to find pleasure in our trials, we must, if we are not to waste the trial, thank Him for His loving sovereign purpose for us and receive the trial with a prepared mind, asking God to accomplish His good purpose. He will most definitely bring about His goodness in us through any trial He ordains for us.

And He will make Himself so precious to us in that trial, if we will let Him. If we face the trial as David and Job and Joseph did, knowing that we need such disciplines from our God and worship Him in that trial, we will experience the added benefit and blessing of a joyful heart. God's presence will be evident.

If Our Sinless Savior Suffered, shall We be Exempt? 
Besides all of that, if God ordained that His own Son would suffer because of sin (not His own, but because of OUR sin), the only man who was not deserving of that suffering, how dare we think that we sinful children will escape any suffering! The thing here is that we do not have to suffer for the sins of others, as Jesus did for us, NOR do we even have to suffer for our own sins. Jesus did that for us on the cross.

God is not punitive with His children because He punished Christ for our sins. But we do have a Heavenly Father who disciplines His children. He uses adversity for our training in righteousness. Let us not despise this grace to us. May we thank Him and say along with the Psalmist, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes."

"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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 12:5-11)

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1 comment:

  1. Mahalo, Sharon for this. So good to hear from you. So true that sin is a master at hiding itself! I can be so deceived. Thank you for the reminder to be thankful for our trials instead of complaining. Praying for you and Robert. Hope to see you guys next time. Aloha.