“Conjunction Junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.”
Gotta love Schoolhouse Rock! Check out last week’s post, “Conjunction Junction | Part 1,” if you want to sing along with the whole song! In this life, we face a myriad of struggles and hardships. For believers, times of persecution, inner turmoil, and interpersonal difficulties are an everyday battle. Psalm 119 offers us direction in how we, as Christians, should respond to the various situations we face.
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
THE SITUATION: The troubles of life have worn me down, dried me up, drowned me in the soot of affliction, and have left me shriveled, useless, exhausted, and distraught.
THE RESPONSE: I will remember the Lord’s faithfulness in times past. I will press on and persevere so that I might be strengthened in the faith (Romans 5:3-5). Instead of allowing sorrow and struggle to lead my heart to bitterness, I will choose to follow the example of Christ. For I know it is good for me that I am afflicted, because such times propel my heart to learn His statutes (Psalm 119:71). Such times make me understand that in the midst of my weakness is when I am strongest, for in my weakness I have strength only to lean on Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When I am overwhelmed by this world, I will remember that He has overcome it (John 16:33). In these moments, I will claim the Peace He offers, because His Peace is unlike any that can be found in this world (John 14:27). Most of all, I will refrain from allowing bitterness and anger to build up in my heart against the Lord. I will instead remember that the Lord disciplines the one He loves (Hebrews 12:3-11); I will remember that it is in faithfulness He allows struggles to enter my life (Psalm 119:75).
The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
they do not live according to your law.
All your commandments are sure;
they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
They have almost made an end of me on earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
THE SITUATION: The world (my enemies, the devil, those who hate God) tries to ruin my life by trapping me and causing me to stumble.
THE RESPONSE: I will not quit living for Him. I will never give up, concede, or surrender to the world. I will not renounce the faith. I will not abandon His commands or give the enemy cause to rejoice. I will not plot to take revenge, for I know that vengeance is the Lord’s (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35, Proverbs 20:22). I will trust in the Lord for wisdom to navigate around the pitfalls, for perseverance to live above reproach. I will live a life worthy of the calling I have in Him. In doing so, I will be confident that no amount of falsehood will tarnish my testimony for Him.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
THE SITUATION: The world (my enemies, the devil, those who hate God, even those within the church who persecute me) hovers watchfully, expectantly, just waiting for me to screw up, just waiting for its kill shot.
THE RESPONSE: I will think carefully on His Word. I will remember the Lord’s faithfulness. Though the world hovers over my life, waiting for me to stumble, I know my Father is even nearer, waiting to catch me as I fall (Psalm 37:24). As the wicked seek my ruin, I will remember that my God is sovereign over all! Though they seek to destroy me, I know my God knows my heart and that only He can bring my life to an end. Nothing happens without His knowledge and permission. I recognize this. And so even if I do find myself falling, failing, at the brink of destruction, I will trust Him. I know He has a purpose for every situation and I know He will be faithful to me to the end (Romans 8:28). So in the midst of this chaos, I will fix my gaze on His promises and remember His testimony of faithfulness in my life.
The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
THE SITUATION: The world (my enemies, the devil, those who hate God, even those within the church who persecute me) lays traps for me to cause me to stumble.
THE RESPONSE: I will not deviate from the course He has set before me. I will continue running this race in a manner worthy of the calling He has given me in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2, Philippians 1:27). I will love those who oppose me as they work to entrap me because I know Christ’s love is the greatest force against evil. I will ask the Lord to make my love to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that I might be pure and blameless for the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:9-11). Knowledge and understanding of His precepts is what allows me to recognize the traps the wicked lay out for me. His precepts will help me navigate around the snares of my opponents. However tempting these traps may be, I will refuse to compromise the faith. I will refuse to sacrifice everlasting truth for fleeting pleasures. I will stand firm on Christ, my solid Rock.
When the troubles of this life leave us feeling overwhelmed and distraught, when the wicked seek to destroy us, when those who hate us hope for us to stumble, may we remember His statutes and uphold His precepts. May we never back down from standing for Truth; may we fix our gaze upon His faithfulness. May we never deviate from the course.