This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50 ESV
Here again we see the theme of affliction coming up as the psalmist meditates upon his deep love for God’s eternal Word. Of course, Scripture is clear that the believer’s life will be marked by suffering, tribulation, and affliction. Paul and Barnabas encouraged those to whom they ministered “to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). To the Philippians, Paul said, “it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). The Thessalonians, he exhorted “that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this” (1 Thessalonians 3:3). And, of course, we have the words of Jesus:
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant to be like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.Matthew 10:24-25
Yes, affliction will come in this life. Our Lord commands each of us to carry our cross daily as we follow in His cruciform life. However, as the psalmist reminds us, there is still comfort to be found in the midst of suffering, a comfort that comes through the promise of God’s Word, a promise that gives life to weary and dried up bones.
We find comfort in the promise “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). We find comfort in the promise “that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4). We find comfort in the promise that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We find comfort in the promise that God afflicts us “that [we] might learn [His] statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Matthew 5:11-12