“O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again” (Psalm 71:19b-21).
Four months into my forty-fifth year and I find
myself reflecting back over the course of my life. My conclusion:
sometimes life sucks but God is good.
It is not unusual for one to arrive at such a conclusion. Those who think life is a bed of roses are either delusional or lying. Those who think this is your best life now are simply lost and on their way to eternal separation from God as the only way this can be your best life now is to be on your way to hell. So why my blunt yet true assessment? Like the psalmist, I have experienced times of trouble and the goodness of God in the midst of such times of trouble.
The aforementioned passage—Psalm 71:19b-21—has become a passage for my present circumstances. For more than ten years I have enjoyed a ministry unlike no other—ministering to, and sharing Christ with, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Civilian Contractors, and their families. I thought I would continue in this ministry until I had to retire but God had other plans. Through the unfortunate and misguided actions of others God has sovereignly altered the course of my life. I now find myself in a period of transition. My Air Force ministry will conclude soon. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know who holds the future. Thankfully, He has it all under control and He will sovereignly reveal His will for me in due time.
So, as believers, what should be our response when we conclude life sucks? We should remember that God offers divine help in times of trouble. Psalm 71 is a psalm of experience. In other words, the psalmist doesn’t sugar coat his experience—life is hard; life has been hard; life will be hard. The key, for the psalmist, is trust and praise in the sovereign God of life itself. He begins, “O God, who is like you?” This is a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious—no one. When life is hard, remember, there is no one like the God we serve. God is good!
“But wait,” you say. “The psalmist says it is God who has made him see troubles.” That is true. The Bible often recognizes the fact troubles and trials are sent by God. God, after all, is sovereign and we live and move in His providence. What are some of the life troubles you have experienced? Abuse? Loss? Sickness? Unemployment? Aging? Just fill in the blank—there seems to be no limit to the troubles and trials life can send our way. Even in the trials, however, God is good.
God’s goodness is seen in the fact these troubles are always sent with a purpose—to make us more like Jesus. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know 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 1:2-4). “Perfect and complete” simply means spiritually mature. To see God as the one who sends calamity is a call to understand suffering from the vantage point of faith in God and confidence in His sovereignty—He is making us more like Jesus.
I can say, “God is good,” only when I understand troubles and trials are designed by God for this purpose. Paul concludes, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom.5:2b-4).
As believers, we will suffer. Sometimes we will conclude life sucks. Even so, our confidence remains in God and by faith we can still declare God is good! And because He is good we know that ultimately, He will deliver us, either in this life or the life to come. Suffering, after all, lasts no longer than a lifetime. Job is a good example of one who was delivered after a time of intense suffering. Such is not always the case in this life, however, as some are ultimately delivered through the suffering—when they see Jesus face-to-face—think Stephen, the first martyr.
“O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again…”