“And they lived happily ever after.”
We recognize the above phrase as the epitome of a fairy tale’s standard ending. Or the predictable plot line in a romantic Hallmark movie. Yet, we instinctively know that not everything in this life is fair. Equitable. Just. And certainly not filled with happiness.
Life is filled with dangers, disappointments and discouragements. We experience hurt, heartache and unhappiness. Sooner or later we all must deal with physical ailments, emotional stress and even the grief caused by death.
In addition, we are too often disappointed by the moral failures of friends, family and even brethren. Heart broken spouses, confused children and anguished church families are left in the wake of immoral actions. When secret sin comes to light our souls are disquieted and we truly mourn.
However, none of the adversity we face in this life should be a shock. A cursory look at the Psalms reveals the challenges life often brings. In one passage, David succinctly said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
The Bible teaches us that righteousness does not exempt us from trial, trouble or temptation. A life of luxury, easy or convenience is not the birthright of being a Christian. Indeed, bad things happen to good people. They may occur through our own carelessness. Through the failures of others. Through the natural process of living, aging, and dying. Or perhaps by sheer chance. Yes, the Bible says some things just happen accidently (Eccl 9:11).
Understanding this fact, however, does not negate the pain. Minimize the sorrow. Or eliminate the suffering. But it does put us in the same category as all other human beings on planet earth. And it should give us pause to cry, “Why me, Lord?” As one writer retorted in the middle of a problem, “Why not me?” In other words, what makes me special to escape the troubles of mankind?
But this verse does offer hope during the depths of heartache. “The Lord will deliver.” We do not have to be imprisoned by our distress. Or held captive by our circumstances. Or even shackled by our shame.
In the previous two verses in the Psalm we have this divine promise.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
When we are hurting, God hears. God cares. God helps. God delivers. And God saves.
His help may come in the form of friends and brethren who provide assistance, offer assurance and ease our burdens. There is peace that comes through prayer. And spiritual strength that lifts us through His Word.
While none of us relish difficulties, they may ultimately serve to fortify us in ways we never imagined. Even the weaknesses that result in our failures can serve as a catalyst for better days and future success. Indeed, God’s grace is sufficient. And His power can be made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10).
Finally, one day the righteous will be spared from earth’s afflictions. Delivered from the devil’s evil intentions. And saved eternally from all sorrow.
Has life crushed your spirit?
Do not surrender in despair.
There is help. There is hope. There is God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman