It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes. (Psalm 119:71)
It is interesting that the psalmist says there is a cause and effect relationship between his own affliction and learning God’s statutes. Earlier (v. 67) he says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.”
This kind of thinking often seems antithetical to our mindset. We don’t want affliction or trial. Yet, this is a much needed reminder. Many of us who have a lackluster devotion to God would quickly be refined through difficulty. Our barely-existent prayer lives would thrive in the midst of great difficulty. Yet, how human it is to desire comfort. Although comfort is not bad, we must remember that comfort is rarely the purifying influence in our lives.
I have been encouraged in meditating on this through a few quotes from Charles Spurgeon:
I believe there is no place where we can learn so much, and have so much light cast upon Scripture, as we do in the furnace. Read a truth in tranquility, read it in peace, read it in prosperity, and you will not make anything of it. Be put inside the furnace (and nobody knows what a bright blase is there who has not been there), and you will then be able to spell all hard words, and understand more than you could without it (Spurgeon’s Gems, 86).
Storms and tempest are the things that make men tough and hardy mariners. They see the works of the Lord and His great wonders in the deep. So with Christians. Great faith must have great trials. (Spurgeon’s Gems, 299)