Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Blessings in Disguise

You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads.
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to abundance.

—Psalm 66:10-12

“You…You…You…You…You…You." The psalmist sees God in every ordeal. Temptations, trials, strictures, crushing burdens, people riding roughshod over us, fire and rain—all these crises are mediated through God's hands.

Here lies an enigma: Though others afflict us, or we afflict ourselves, God takes responsibility for all that befalls us. Scripture affirms it. I cannot explain it. I can only state it.

One of the most startling statements in the Bible occurs on an occasion in which Satan, having done his worst to torment Job, appears a second time before God, who takes the blame for all that happened to Job: "You incited me to act against (Job)" (Job 2:3).

If all events are random the world becomes a very scary place, but if goodness and love order all that happens to us here, we can assume there's a reason for it all.

We may not know the reason, indeed we cannot, but, despite our troubles we can trust God's love. The result is tranquility and a satisfying quality of life the biblical writers call "blessedness"—a sense of spiritual well-being that transcends our best efforts to explain it, a point the psalm makes as well: "You bring us out (of suffering) to abundance"[1] (66:12). It's the word David uses in his Shepherd Psalm: "My cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5).

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies:
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise. —author unknown
David Roper3.1.17

[1] The Hebrew word means "saturation"—complete satisfaction.

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