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March 29, 2012
By John Barnett
Read, print, or listen to this resource on our website
As we open to Psalm 119:71, we as a nation are in the midst of one of the most challenging times American’s have faced for over a generation.
But as bad as it may seem, think about how hard life was here in the USA in 1917.
That year, World War I was sapping the finances, wearing down the resolve, and destroying the young men of this nation.
In the midst of all that, there was no government security for the sick or unemployed.
People only lived on what they could make and scrape out on their farms or in the cities.
Even the churches were struggling.
So much so, that one church in Kentucky couldn’t afford to keep their pastor as a paid staff member any longer.
I wonder what Pastor Thomas Obadiah Chisholm thought of Psalm 119:71, after he got word that because of his failing health, he would no longer get any financial support from his church congregation he had served as pastor for many years.
We’ll find out a bit later, because every one of us here today have heard his testimony many times.
But now, listen to these strong, confident words from Ezra’s pen, guided by the Infinite, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Spirit of God:
Psalm 119:71 /"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes."/
In our darkest hour, deepest pain, hardest times, most hopeless situations—we know that our God who is faithful is CLOSER at those moments, than any other time.
In 1917 that 51 year-old pastor named Thomas Obadiah Chisholm had to leave the paid, vocational ministry for health reasons.
Life was hard, and jobs were so scarce he had to support his family selling door-to-door in Kentucky.
But he did so humming the words of a personal resolve he had written.
What was his plan for facing physical and emotional afflictions in a cold and cruel world with the harsh realities of dashed hopes, failing health, declining finances, and limited strength?
His testimony is in front of you in the hymnbook, number 372 “Living for Jesus”.
Let’s use our hymnbooks to see this lesson as we read his words together today.
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.
Oh Jesus Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me; I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy Throne; my life I give henceforth to live—Oh Christ for Thee alone!
Like Thomas Chisholm learned, as he trudged out into dark mornings, and through long wearying days, God didn’t take away the troubles, He went through them with us.
God was with him all during his long days, short nights, empty cupboards, non-existent savings.
All those troubles were his, but one thing never changed—God was always faithfully the same.
*How God wants to use Affliction in our lives Today*
God wants us not to flee our troubles, but to find Him right in the midst of every storm that blows through our lives.
And just as these words says so clearly, He wants us to learn to lean upon His Arm of grace and mercy extended from His Throne to live each day for Jesus a life that truly reflects the God we serve—in all that we do.
First, review with me the lesson plan for the entire Psalm 119 course on how to please God through every affliction He allows to come our way.
Do you have them marked yet in your Bible?
I would, and I already do, because we are never really very far from storms in life.
First we need to remember that in each of these seven verses God’s Word offers a lesson on how AFFLICTION is used by our Faithful God, because it:
1. *PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD*: Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.
2. *PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH:* Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
3. *CHISELS GOD’S PLAN INTO OUR LIFE*: Psalm 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes
4. *TEACHES US THAT GOD IS FAITHFUL*: Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
5. *KEEPS US FOCUSED ON OUR TEACHER*: Psalm 119:92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.
6. *FORCES US TO TEST HIS PROMISES:* Psalm 119:107 I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.
7. *BRINGS GOD TO OUR DOORSTEP:* Psalm 119:153 Consider my affliction and deliver me, For I do not forget Your law.
Secondly we need to remember:
*What Qualifies as An Affliction?*
We got started last time tracing the word “affliction” through the 119th Psalm.
The English word “affliction” is translated from two different Hebrew words: The first, onee (Strong’s #6040), portrays an emotional affliction of being in a state of misery; The second word, anah (Strong’s #6031), portrays a physical affliction of being bowed down or squashed beneath a physical load.
If you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced: hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.
We looked at the first four of these seven situations God gives us as lessons.
Here are what we have learned so far from each passage.
1. *Ill treatment by others qualifies as an affliction:* … The Angel of the LORD said to [Hagar]: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction” (Genesis 16:11).
2.* Lack of love qualifies as an affliction:* … Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The LORD has surely looked on my affliction.
Now therefore, my husband will love me” (Genesis 29:32).
3. *Lost wages and broken promises qualify as an affliction:* … Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass?
What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? … Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.
Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.
God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night” (Genesis 31:36, 41-42).
4. *Hatred, jealousy, and betrayal qualify as an affliction:* … The name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).
Now as we open to Exodus 3, we find the fifth way that Giod describes “afflictions” that He uses in our lives.
5. *Underpayment and overwork qualifies as an affliction:* … The LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression [affliction] of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).
The word “oppression” means “affliction.”
The underpayment and overwork of the Hebrews by unkind and evil masters was an affliction, and happens all the time to American workers.
Many are underpaid and practically kill themselves overworking just to make ends meet.
But God says, “I see that affliction of yours, but instead of fighting, I want to strengthen and teach you some valuable lessons as you go through it.”
6. *The inability to have children qualifies as an affliction:* … [Hannah] was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish [affliction] (1 Samuel 1:10).
Anguish is “affliction”—a squashing—which is the depth of emotion Hannah displayed as she wept.
Her inability to have children caused her great suffering, but the cruelty of her “fellow wife” and the insensitivity to Hannah’s pain compounded the problem.
Are there things you are unable to do and have no control over it?
Perhaps you have limitations or inabilities for which people afflict you and give you pain.
God says to you, “I know all about your struggles; I am not blind to them, and through your furnace of affliction I am going to teach you something valuable you can never learn any other way.”
That is always the lesson of affliction.
7.* Unkind words, slander, accusations, and insults qualify as an affliction:* “It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:12).
This was a real low point in David’s life.
His adversary, Shimei, hurled unkind words, slander, accusations, and insults at him when David’s son, Absalom, won the heart of the people and ran his father out of town.
On top of that, Shimei, a descendant of King Saul, screamed venomous words and cursed David, and threw dirt and kicked rocks at him.
But David responded well in spite of his heartache, “Maybe You, oh Lord, will repay me with good for the cursings I’ve endured today.
I want to walk with You through this fiery furnace of affliction so You can burn away anything from my life keeping me from serving You more fully.”
This is the attitude God wants to see in us as well.
So, if you are struggling emotionally or physically right now, stop and reflect upon the lives of these Old Testament saints and what they faced:
hatred, jealousy, and betrayal; a bad job situation; family disharmony; infertility; and verbal insults, accusations, and unkind words.
Which leads us to a third part of this study, what are the actual:
*Lessons in the School of Affliction*
Because seven is the number of divine completion, it seems God has engineered a complete set of messages on affliction in these seven verses in Psalm 119.
The primary lesson is affliction is purposed to drive us to God and His Word:
to find comfort (v.
50); to obtain the will of God (v.
67); to follow His divine plan (v.
71); to learn of God’s faithfulness (v.
75); to find restoration and transformation (v.
92); to hear His voice walking with us in our affliction (v.
107); and to get special deliverance (v.
With these verses the Lord as our Ultimate Teacher has traced how He uses afflictions as a part of His divine plan to build our lives into a masterpiece for His glory!
1. God uses affliction because it:* PUSHES US INTO GOD’S WORD:* Only God's Word can really help us in afflictions – cards, visits, gifts, activities all can only offer temporary relief through distraction or amusement.
Psalm 119:50: This is my comfort in my affliction [#6040—emotional], for Your word [#565—reading the divine Word to obtain the will of God] has given me life.
Only God's Word can really help us in afflictions.
Cards, visits, gifts, and activities only offer temporary relief through distractions or amusement.
Suffering through emotional affliction ought to drive us to read the Word of God to find comfort.
Affliction can deaden us, but the Word gives us life.
The Blessing: Affliction causes us to see God’s perfect Word more clearly.
2. God uses affliction because it: *PULLS US BACK ONTO THE PATH*: A consistent life is built by afflictions.
God uses afflictions to pull us back and keep us on His path for our lives.
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