It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Ps. 119:71)
NOBODY LIKES TO SUFFER. If you do like to suffer, we have a word for it: masochism, which means “pleasure in being abused or dominated: a taste for suffering.” But the believer has a unique perspective on life. While not enjoying suffering—which comes to everyone, sooner or later—the believer gains perspective through suffering. This is why the psalmist could say, “It was good for me to be afflicted” (Ps. 119:71).
Did he enjoy it? Doubtful. But suffering drew him closer to God and His Word, whereby he learned more about God’s decrees.
Annie Johnson Flint understood this principle. Early in the twentieth century, she wrote:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through . . .
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way.
The apostle Paul had such a perspective. He had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, spent sleepless nights, and knew what it was to be hungry, cold, and naked. Yet, he said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12–13).
You can also learn to be content by His grace.
Meditate today on all the reasons you have to be content in Christ.
Ron McClung, who works at his denomination’s world headquarters, lives in Fishers, Indiana, with his wife, Carol. They have two sons, nine grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.