So, tonight we had our first meeting of Life Groups for the youth at Cornerstone. I’m not sure how everyone else’s went, but junior high girls rocked. It was so great to have an apartment full of girls, having fun and digging into The Word (but, now I know not to give them coffee and brownies…it’s a lethal combination–at least for me).

After everyone left, I was left by myself to ponder the nights events.  I cracked open my Bible and began to read Psalm 119.  I love this psalm, and every time I read it I think, “Man, I should read this psalm every day.”  It just puts things in perspective for me, and it makes me realize just how precious God’s Word is.

Tonight when I was reading, I didn’t even get halfway through before I came across these verses, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word.  You are good, and do good; teach me Your statues…It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” (v. 67&71)  This struck me, because I don’t think of affliction this way.  When I am in a crisis, I don’t thank God for it; I am usually praying for God to take me out of it.  But, the psalmist is saying that it was good to be afflicted.  Before he was afflicted, he couldn’t stay on the right path, but affliction is actually what set things right for him.

This is backwards from everything we are taught.  Affliction is bad.  Suffering is bad.  We do things in order to limit suffering in our lives.  But, what if our striving to remove struggles and suffering from our lives is hurting more than helping?  What if we are missing out on God?

The study we are doing during the first six weeks of Life Groups is on the Passion of Christ.  I have spent the past two months immersed in studying the last hours of Jesus’ life, trying to wrap my mind around it in order to write the cirriculum for this study.  In my studying and reading, I came across this quote by Max Lucado:

God was never nearer to us than when he hurt. The Incarnation was never so fulfilled as in the garden….If it’s true that in suffering God is most like man, maybe in our suffering we can see God like never before.

I think that is what this verse is saying.  We understand God the best in our affliction.  When we are suffering, His Word comes alive to us in ways we couldn’t see before.  When we are broken we are given the opportunity to see God as our Healer.   When we are abandoned, we see God as the One who will never leave or forsake us.  When we are anxious, we are introduced to God as the Peace that goes beyond all understanding.  And, when we are wounded, we begin to understand that He is the One who binds up our wounds.  It is in affliction that He reveals Himself to us.  It is in suffering that we begin to understand God in ways that we couldn’t before.  It is where we meet our Savior.