What good is the bad?

Why me? Why is life so hard? Why do I have to suffer? What good is there to suffer? God must be punishing me. These are some valid and logical questions to ask when one is facing difficult situations in life.

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm. It is a psalm about the value of God’s word, his laws and his promises. Who wrote this psalm? It is unknown but most scholars agree that it is David, Ezra or Daniel. Why? Each of the 3 suffered much in life. Many verses in the psalm describe plots, slanders and taunts against him (23, 42, 51, 150 ), persecutions and afflictions he faced. (verses 61, 86, 95, 110, 121, 134, 157, 161; 67, 71, 143, 153) https://www.gotquestions.org/Psalm-119.html

From vv. 1-88, 4 verses mention suffering/affliction (患 難,受苦). These verses teach us the right perspectives of a person who faces difficulties in life.

What good is there in suffering?
1) Comfort of God v. 50
You comfort me in my suffering,
because your promise gives me new life. (ERV – Easy to Read Version)
這 話 將 我 救 活 了 ; 我 在 患 難 中 , 因 此 得 安 慰 。(CUV – Chinese Union Version)

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It is in my cancer that i experienced God’s embrace the most. It is when my parents were dying that God’s promises sustain me. Job sought God’s comfort in his sufferings. David found refuge in God when enemies sought his life.

2) Knowledge of God v. 67,71,75. I have witnessed many times how people turn to God when they are in the pit. My brother-in-law read the Bible everyday when he had cancer. He came to know God as he went through the valley of the shadow of death.

Arthur Pink in his piece The Afflictions of the Godly describes 3 kinds of heart in these 3 verses in Psalm 119. https://www.gracegems.org/Pink/afflictions_of_the_godly.htm

2.1. An honest heart v. 67
Before I suffered, I did many wrong things.
But now I carefully obey everything you say. (ERV)
我 未 受 苦 以 先 走 迷 了 路 , 現 在 卻 遵 守 你 的 話. (CUV)
This verse is a confession of an honest repentant sinner. Sufferings brought sinners to turn from their waywardness to obedience to God.

2.2. A grateful heart v.71
Suffering was good for me; I learned your laws. (ERV)
我 受 苦 是 與 我 有 益 , 為 要 使 我 學 習 你 的 律 例 。(CUV)

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How do I see suffering? Only a thankful heart sees it is good for me to suffer. A grateful person realises God’s laws are good. I learn so many lessons in life when I was in the deepest pit and the darkest valley. I experience God’s peace beyond human understanding in my radiation treatments. I experience God’s timely provisions when I was bed-ridden and nothing else to do but pray. I would not exchange these lessons for an easier path.

2.3. A discerning heart v.75
耶 和 華 啊 , 我 知 道 你 的 判 語 是 公 義 的 ; 你 使 我 受 苦 是 以 誠 實 待 我 。(CUV)

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An honest heart knows oneself. He knows his sinful ways. A discerning heart knows God. He knows God’s ways are righteous and just. A wise heart admits that God is right when he punishes with affliction. While it is true that not all sufferings are God’s punishments for disobedience, it is real that sins have their consequences. God disciplines us when we do wrong. He is faithful to his character – one of righteousness an justice. God allows afflictions in our life to teach us valuable lessons – to call us back to him and turn from our wrong choices in life.

So what good is there in suffering? I get to experience God’s comfort. I get to know myself and I get to know God more.

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