When it comes to the idea or thought of what is good for us opinions and beliefs vary. Usually, the differences are based upon personal preferences, experiences, and environments. Oftentimes many are persuaded by the opinions and beliefs of others for various reasons—relationships, shared experiences, similar backgrounds, etc. Regardless of beliefs or how opinions are formed, in many instances, we know, to a certain extent, if something is good for us or not. Unfortunately, our human nature gravitates to the “not good” more often than the good although we are fully aware of the risks. For example, take a look at the picture. I am sure you can agree that as good as it looks, too much fast food in our diet is definitely not a good thing. However, the decision is personal. If I know eating too much fast food is not a good thing, will I change my eating habits and discipline myself for my own benefit—a healthy lifestyle?
This same illustration can apply to our spiritual life. When it comes to our personal relationship with Christ, we have an innate problem with discerning if it’s a good thing. We are in a constant struggle with our carnal nature. For example, in our carnal mindset, we agree that being afflicted is not a good thing. However, this is what the psalmist concludes in Psalm 119:71:
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”
The word afflicted in this passage does not necessarily mean physical sickness or disease. Instead, it means various troubles, unfavorable circumstances and conditions that put you in a lowly place, a humbling position, which is against our human nature. In essence, when our back is against the wall, we are in a good place to learn something from God that will change us as well as our spiritual perception.
“It is a good thing that I was humbled
because it helped me learn Your limits.”
Psalm 119:71 (The Voice)
Let’s consider the psalmist’s perspective and what we can learn that can possibly change our view. First of all, it is a personal declaration…good for me…, that I was humbled…, it helped me… As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, each of us must have personal experiences and encounters on our faith walk that transform us from the inside out so that we grow in the knowledge of God. God in His wisdom deals with each of us differently just as parents do with their children. Hopefully, we can all agree that in His sovereignty He desires good for all of us regardless of what it takes for us to realize that goodness is the essence of God’s character.
“No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11b)
Secondly, the psalmist states the reason for his conclusive statement. He says that having been afflicted (humbled) was good so he could learn God’s statutes (decrees)—established laws that govern; God’s boundaries (limits). Truth is, we become so consumed with our troubles that we complain, whine and beg God to get us out even though we ignored boundaries and pushed the limits. We are a generation that rebel against limitations and set boundaries. Unfortunately, without boundaries and limits, we risk harming ourselves and others. Hence, laws and regulations were established for our good.
Here is the good news! God’s ultimate plan is to bring us to an expected end—a good outcome. However, we don’t always see this from a spiritual perspective. Our sin nature opposes God’s way of doing things. Therefore, we constantly seek to do things our way. Unfortunately, we fail to recognize what is good for us until our way has landed us into “no way out.” It is at the point of “no way out” that we finally get it, sometimes the first time—God’s way is the best because He is good and His mercy endures forever.
Conclusively, when it comes to the idea or thought of what is good for us opinions and beliefs vary from our carnal nature. Thankfully, from a spiritual perspective, like the psalmist, we mature spiritually and realize that our troubles, bad situations, lowly places, hardships and disappointments were working for our good. (Romans 8:28) Why? God was teaching us! We learned something about God. We learned that God’s judgments are right. We learned that God is faithful and can be trusted. We learned that God loves us unconditionally, and knows and wants what is best for us. Above all, we learned that God’s Word is true. Teach me O LORD! I hope in Your Word!
(Suggested reading: Psalms 119:65-72)