“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.”
Psalm 119:71-72, NLT
1st Sunday-The Good From The Unpleasant!
Life is filled with many unpleasant memories and experiences. Solomon speaks of these anomalies as being sequential, given certain seasons and time intervals in life. Solomon’s prelude to Ecclesiastes 3, reads, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” There are some 28 life experiences mentioned in Solomon’s couplets, and he ends by acknowledging that we humans cannot fully comprehend life’s contradictions. Solomon says, “He [God] has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes’ 3:11b).” In a previous generation, David, father of Solomon, recalled an instance of great physical and emotional anguish. The pain was bitter and unpleasant. David, like so many of us, did not placate the pain that engulfed him. But after reflection, David acknowledged that God spoke through his suffering to bring him to a new level of understanding. David never says the suffering was good “to him,” but he says the suffering was “good for me.” David’s defense of the suffering is that “it taught me to pay attention to [what God has to say].” The Hebrew word, choq (khoke) that’s translated decrees or statues, actually means “something appointed for a specific time, event or place.” In his classic book, Disciplines of the Spirit, Dr. Howard Thurman identifies suffering as one of life’s unpleasant events that can be used to “tutor [teach] the spirit within us.” The episodes of life, can draw us nearer to God. What David came to experience with God had a value greater than anything else. Episodes can cause pain, but there’s a value in what God can do with what we go through!