Let’s face it: Life can get pretty darn rough sometimes.
Over the summer, I went to Kemah with a few of my cousins. There’s an old, wooden roller coaster called the “Boardwalk Bullet” that gets a lot of tourist traffic (although, I’m not quite sure why anymore). Mind you, this was not the first “old, wooden” roller coaster I had ever been on. But this particular one must have been built in the stone ages, because I have never, ever, in all of my roller-coaster-loving life, wanted to get off a ride as much as that one. Every muscle in my body ached. I was sure I had displaced a few vertebrae and was confident my brain would cease to function after having been scrambled up like a of couple eggs. If it sounds terrible, that’s because it was. The Bullet didn’t make me sick, but it did leave me hurting. All over. Needless to say, I’m never getting on that thing again! Although I was left with a pounding headache and a body which felt like more of a burden than anything else, I had learned a valuable lesson. A nice hot bath really does soothe the aching. A cold compress to the forehead dulls the pounding. Life hurts sometimes. It gets rough. It’s messy. It’s ugly. It’s unfair. But if we know what to focus on, if we know how to treat the aches and sores, if we know how to dress the wounds, things will get better. The cure-all for life’s bumps and cuts? The Word of God.
I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
THE SITUATION: The world makes me feel small. Society rejects me, my community demeans me, even my friends/family despise me. I am the outsider. Always the outsider. I am no one. I am insignificant. I am nothing.
THE RESPONSE: I will remember who my God says I am. I will remember He is my Creator (Isaiah 54:5) and that everything He creates has a purpose – a unique purpose. I will accept that I am, after all, small and nothing before HIM. And instead of wallowing in self-pity, I will choose to praise my Heavenly Father for who He is: my Constant, my Redeemer, my gracious God, the One who is always on my side. I will remember His Words which I know to be trustworthy and true (Psalm 119:160). I know the world will hate me because I love Him. I will embrace my role as the “outsider” because I know nothing will honor Him more than a set-apart life. My identity is not in my popularity or earthly title. My identity is found in Him. I am the disciple whom Jesus loves – though I am small, though I am despised.
Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
THE SITUATION: Trouble and suffering follow closer than my shadow. Trouble is always seeking me out. Suffering pursues me. Pain is overwhelming. Anguish and struggle leach the life from my very bones.
THE RESPONSE: Though trouble and suffering bring me to my knees, I will look up from this lowly place and gaze into my sweet Jesus’ face. This lowly position is where I choose to reside. I will look to His words for comfort. I will seek His will for peace. I will willingly and joyfully endure hardships and persevere through trials because it has been granted to me that I should not only believe in Him, but also suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29-30). I will remember this truth: Though trouble and suffering follow me, there is nothing and no one nearer to me than God. He is the Rock upon which I stand. I will delight in His commandments and in my suffering just as Christ delighted in His suffering to set me free (Galatians 5:1; Hebrews 12:1-2).
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
THE SITUATION: Many are against me. I face much opposition, much persecution, much adversity. Everywhere I look, I am confronted with those who hate me, with those who hate my Jesus. The lovers of this world are a multitude against me. I feel alone.
THE RESPONSE: I will not deviate from the course. I will not allow these people, these situations, to cause me to swerve off the path my God has so graciously laid out and lit up for me. I will remember His faithfulness in times past and I will trust Him to preserve me in the midst of such conflict. I will not act based on my emotions or fear because I know He has not given me a spirit of timidity, but one of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Regardless of how many stand against me, I know no multitude of any size or strength could stand against my God who goes before me (Psalm 125:2, 139:5, 34:7; Deuteronomy 31:8)!
Princes persecute me without cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your words.
THE RESPONSE: I will turn my gaze away from this unjust persecution and instead, turn my face to Jesus. Rather than stand in awe and disbelief of the persecution I endure for no cause, I will stand in awe of His words which are life to my bones. I will stand in awe of Truth: Just as my sweet Jesus willingly bore persecution for the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), I will willingly, gladly, bear persecution, no matter how unfair, for the Joy I have in Him! I will remember there is no one who faced more unjust persecution than my sweet Redeemer. I will remember that whatever sorrow I experience in the face of unjust persecution, He must have felt exceedingly more. I will remember that the power of Christ rests on me (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that the same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, is alive in me (Romans 8:11)! Understanding all this is what propels my heart to stand in awe of Him. This is where I will find the strength to persevere.
The situations of life weigh us down, overwhelm our hearts, leave us feeling exhausted and empty. That’s what is expected in a fallen world filled with fallen people. As Believers, we must remember to live “set-apart” lives for His glory. He gives us His Word so that we can do just that! So we must be diligent to study it. These real-life examples are for REAL LIFE, y’all. We have the handbook for “How to Live Well” right in front of us, but many of us choose to ignore it. Many of us view studying Scripture as simply another religious obligation. It is so much more than that.
When life hits us hard and knocks us to our knees, when all the odds are against us, how can we even hope to stand again? If we respond the way He wants us to, it will first and foremost honor Him (which really, should be enough motivation for us to do so)! And secondly, we will be given the added benefit, the extra blessing of heart-healing and mind-transforming (Romans 12:2). When we take on His perspective, it’s not just to fulfill His expectation and desire of us – we must understand that it is also for our ULTIMATE good. Our God is not a God who is solely concerned for His glory and nothing else. He is a God who is also concerned with our good, our joy, our preservation. In the midst of all your suffering, persecution, exhaustion, loneliness, and fear, remember the conjunctions of Psalm 119.
Life is rough. But the Word of God is the healing salve to our aching hearts, our troubled minds, our desperate souls.