4 Ways Paul Encourages Us to Love the Church (Even When It’s Hard)

Beauty on the Inside Around the corner from where I live, a house is for sale. In bold green letters, the lawn sign reads: “I’m Gorgeous Inside!” The message is surprising. From the street, the house is thoroughly ordinary, even run-down. It’s a seventies-era raised...

Gently and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund

The most important thing about us is what we think about God. What do you think of when you think about the Son of God? Some might first think about His miracles, the work of atonement, or His teaching. Others may think about His person. Christ is one person with two...

Authentic Christians Are Progressively Sanctified, Part 2

Join Andy as he continues his series through 1 John looking in more depth at 1 John 1:7-2:1.

Repentance and Leadership in the Home: What It Means to be the Chief Repenter in the Home

On today’s Warriors of Grace show continuing season three, Dave discusses what biblical repentance is and why it matters, persistent sins and biblical repentance, and what it looks like practically for men to be the chief repenter in their home. What you’ll hear in...

A Christian Reading Manifesto

Modern technology has launched us into the stratosphere of learning. With the click of a mouse or a few keystrokes, we can access information from around the world and gain a treasure chest of knowledge. Smartphones are at the forefront of the new technological...

How Paul Led from a Distance: A Model for Pastors Leading From A Distance

The apostle Paul led from a distance. His letters demonstrate deep affection for his readers, a longing to see them again, and his ongoing burden to lead well, even while apart. For example, Paul wrote to the Philippian church from a prison cell in Rome.  But his...
How Suffering Can Be Our Teacher

Posted On March 19, 2018

How Suffering Can Be Our Teacher from Crossway on Vimeo.

Learning to Endure

There’s no way you’re ever going to learn endurance without having to keep on going through something hard that doesn’t go away. There’s no way you’re ever going to learn forbearance without having to face something that you really wish you didn’t have to, and you need to somehow come to grips with it.

Martin Luther said he had three masters, and he got them out of Psalm 119. He said that the first master (in Latin) is meditatio. This is meditation or reflection on Scripture, taking words to heart, wrestling with who God is and what he says in relation to who you are. All these things are obviously are full-force in Psalm 119, which says something about the Word of God in every verse.

Luther says that suffering is the touchstone. It’s the thing that proves our faith to be real and proves God to be real.

The second master is prayer, or in Latin, oratio. In Psalm 119, there are probably 70 or 80 direct, pithy, pungent requests like Lord, don’t forsake me. Lord, make me understand this. Lord, awaken me. Lord, incline my heart. Lord don’t let me… There’s a passionate cry—out of need—for God to intervene that grows out of a reflection on Scripture.

Interestingly, Luther’s third master is affliction, and it’s another underestimated thing in Psalm 119. Affliction appears almost everywhere: the sense of darkness, the sense of threat, the sense of pain.

The Value of Affliction

The author goes so far as to say It was good that I was afflicted that I might learn to keep your Word. The psalm is notorious for being difficult to find a larger structure. It just seems like the only structure is A to Z, and because it’s in Hebrew letters, it means nothing to us.

But, there is a structure that relates to suffering, where the last line of the first section besieges God not to forsake. The last line of the whole psalm (the twenty-second section) besieges God not to forsake. It’s typical for something significant to happen in the middle of Hebrew poetry. Dead center in the psalm there is a reflection on heartache, disappointment, and pain. It’s one of the few areas where many of the consecutive verses are all on the same theme.

Luther says that suffering is the touchstone. It’s the thing that proves our faith to be real and proves God to be real. I bear witness out of my own experience. I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years, and it is actually usually through struggling with something that my faith had to grow. I can look back and say Twenty years ago, was I even a Christian? I so didn’t get it. Ten years ago, was I even a Christian? I so didn’t get it.

I was a Christian, but part of the “getting it” of what it means to be a follower of the Lord who walked the road of death, suffering, betrayal, and humiliation and came out into resurrection and life is that you have to walk, take up his cross, and follow him.

It is actually the way that we learn the most profound and the best lessons that we could ever learn. It’s where faith, love, and joy are most profoundly formed.

This is a guest article by David Powlison, author of God’s Grace in Your Suffering. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.

Related Posts

4 Ways Paul Encourages Us to Love the Church (Even When It’s Hard)

4 Ways Paul Encourages Us to Love the Church (Even When It’s Hard)

Beauty on the Inside Around the corner from where I live, a house is for sale. In bold green letters, the lawn sign reads: “I’m Gorgeous Inside!” The message is surprising. From the street, the house is thoroughly ordinary, even run-down. It’s a seventies-era raised...

A Christian Reading Manifesto

A Christian Reading Manifesto

Modern technology has launched us into the stratosphere of learning. With the click of a mouse or a few keystrokes, we can access information from around the world and gain a treasure chest of knowledge. Smartphones are at the forefront of the new technological...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tweet35
Share21
Pin
Reddit
Share