The Hard Times

Psalm 119:71 – “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

Several years ago I went through some of the darkest days of my life. No matter how hard I tried to get things right, it seemed like everything around me was falling apart. I questioned God. I wondered why He would allow me to go through such difficult times. (As if I was any more worthy to go through less suffering than anyone else. Talk about arrogance!) I wondered if the difficult days would let up. I wondered if it could get any worse.

I bet you’ve been there too. We all go through difficult times. Sometimes it takes years, but when we are able to get far enough removed from a situation to look back with a different perspective we can see that the ordeal didn’t leave us permanently scarred. In fact, sometimes those toughest ordeals can teach us the most valuable lessons in life.

I didn’t like the trials that I went through years ago. But, I rejoice that I went through them. I rejoice that God chose to work in the hardship to bring about His glory. David rejoiced when God took him through his own difficult times. Because, David recognized that those hardships brought about more intimacy in his walk with Christ.

Rejoice in the hardships! Rejoice in the good times. Rejoice!

Dear God,

You are good even in our darkest days. Help us to remember that. Thank You for your Word. Thank You for the comfort that it brings. Thank You for working through the fire.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Calloused Blasphemy

Psalm 119:70 – “Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.”

This afternoon I spent time with the Student Leadership Team for Wooddale Senior High. This is a group of 10th-12th graders who have chosen to be peer leaders. They lead our Area Bible Studies, and our taking peers from their high school and neighborhoods through the book of Mark. The groups have already met twice, so today we prepared for their third meeting, in which they’ll discuss Mark 3.

In Mark 3, Jesus confronts his critics; religious leaders who have accused Jesus of being possessed by the spirit of the Devil. Jesus responds to their criticism by addressing the unpardonable sin, saying, “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29).

What a sobering verse. Earlier this morning, I had read our verse for today, Psalm 119:70. Remember, David is talking about the people who were smearing him with lies in verse 69. Now, in verse 70, David refers to these people as being those with calloused hearts. They are unfealing people who reject and make fun of those who follow God.

Today, the world is full of people whose hearts have become calloused towards God. The world is full of people whose hearts have grown so cold towards God that unless things change, they will spend eternity in hell. That truth should bring a tear to our eyes. To be a Christian and speak of hell, without having an urgency to be about God’s work of rescue souls from hell, is to be someone who is not very different than those whose hearts have grown calloused towards God. Jesus was always about interacting with those who needed God most.

David loved God’s law. We should too. But, we need to do more than love it. We need to live it. We need to live out the Great Commandment to love God first and our neighbors second. We need to live out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. And, we need to do it today.

Dear God,

Give us an urgency for your Gospel. Help us to be about your work of making disciples among all people groups. Help us to be passionate about our friends and neighbors who don’t know you. Help us to not be afraid to share the truth of your word. Use us in your great work.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.