I have found that it is easy to be thankful when things have gone my way. But responding with thanksgiving when I am hurting? Well, that is an entirely different story.
In my last post, I talked about how “the fourth man in the furnace is still with us when we are in the flames.” Today, I would like to take a brief look at an attitude of heart that we can have, even when we are experiencing pain, learning from David in Ps. 69.
Psalm 69:29-33 (ESV)
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, use me on high!
30 I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
In context, David is clearly articulating the state of his life, and he was not afraid to acknowledge the fact that he had been suffering.
That fact is to me one of the most precious attributes of the Bible…it doesn’t sugar-coat the stories of people, as if these great men and women of God never sinned, or never hurt. All believers who are going through any difficulty – whether from pain caused by an illness, from persecution, or from some family disappointment – can find passages outlining similar situations in the Word, and thus receive comfort in knowing that they were not the first to hurt.
The key is not merely that others have walked the path of pain and affliction – what is so helpful is seeing HOW they walked it out. David quickly diverts the song in Ps. 69 away from his angst, landing on how he wants to live WHILE IN the pain and suffering.
He wants God to use Him and his salvation for a higher purpose!
Paul would often do the same thing. He didn’t hide the fact that he had a “personal thorn” with which God had allowed him to endure, or the prison chains that would often bind him. Paul would look for ways that God and His unseen Hand would be using these forms of suffering and pain for His glory.
There is no greater model of this than Jesus himself. Knowing the crucifixion that was ahead, He cried in the Garden – “Let this cup pass from me…nevertheless, not my will, but YOUR will be done….”
David makes a point worth noting in this psalm – before he ever broke in praising God, he made a conscious decision. “I WILL praise him…David had predetermined that he was going to praise God – in the MIDST of his pain.
I believe that we are to do the same thing today. Whether our pain is physical, financial, or relational, the Lord is inviting us today to make the decision that we are going to praise God, and to trust Him…even as we go through pain.
Till next time.
~ Mike Gilland
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