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Psalm 119:67, 71

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word...71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

How does a Christian interpret and cope with the trials and suffering of life? David offers some key insights in Psalm 119:50, 67, 71, 75, 92, 107, and 143. Someone has said, “Suffering is the anvil upon which the Christian life is hammered out. It is through trials that the authenticity of one’s faith is revealed, and through such tribulations that the believer’s character is refined.”[1]

Consider the following passages on suffering:

Romans 5:3–4, “But we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.”

2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”

Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”

James 1:2–3, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

1 Peter 2:21, “For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

1 Peter 4:12, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.”

Here are three principles of suffering from Psalm 119:

  1. Suffering involves both outward and inward trials, verse 143. Inward anguish usually accompanies our outward troubles.

  2. Suffering flows from the loving discipline of our heavenly Father, verses 67-71, 75, cf. Hebrews 12:6-11, “...He disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.”

  3. God’s comfort is greater than all of our suffering, verses 50, 92, 107. cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, His grace is sufficient.

*Notes from Bob's sermon on “The Reformation of Suffering,” October 10, 2021

[1] Suffering (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2018).

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for areason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

“The indestructible future glory of Christians dominates the short epistle of 1 Peter. Writing to a group of believers in a world swirling with trials – opposition and rejection, sneers and put-downs, shaming and reviling – Peter’s primary goal seems to have been encouraging his readers with the stable and assured future awaiting them at the revelation of Christ. So into their fiery crucible of suffering he injected a surprising word – a word of hope.

“Peter wanted his readers to understand that God glorified the Son in order to give us, his children, hope for our own exile. Because when we consider all the trials Jesus faced, and when we see how they intersect with our own suffering and social exclusion, we realize we’ve yet to reach the end of our own story. Just as we’ve been united to Christ in his suffering and death, we’ll be united with him in resurrection and glory.

“We need to hear and believe the promise of our future exultation in order to overcome the threat of shame and disgrace that would silence our witness. The dominant reason for our lack of evangelism in America isn’t the fear of death. We aren’t in danger of being imprisoned or tortured. Rather, we are just beginning to face, like the recipients of 1 Peter, soft persecution. We face being ignored or excluded. We face ridicule or reviling. If we open our mouths with the gospel, we run the risk of others thinking we're closed-minded or unloving. And, at least in my own life, the mere potential for such shame, the possibility of being made an outsider, hinders me from practicing bold evangelism.”


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