“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
Psalm 25:1-5 ESV
It is very easy for us to praise and delight in the goodness of God when things are going well. It is much harder to do so when the going gets tough. Seen from a unique angle, it’s also easy to forget God when things are going well…it might seem to us that we don’t actually need Him at all.
One reason why God allows suffering, is to purify our affections for Him…to show us how dependent we are on Him – for everything! We already know that the psalmist, David, faced many trials – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – throughout his lifetime. His complete and utter dependence on the Lord, lies in these words: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust…“
Many times throughout the Psalms David used the illustration of “ways” and “paths” to point out the Lord’s will, guidance and direction for his life. It is a great illustration, since a path requires “walking” and “moving” on our part – this is active, not passive – even while we are waiting upon the Lord.
David asked the Lord to make him KNOW the ways and paths of the Lord, and to be trained in God’s truth – this is equivalent to asking to know the will and character of God; to continue to grow in love and knowledge of the everlasting God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
The psalmist points us to sanctification – the process in which God molds and shapes us; ridding us of stubborn sins; changing us into the likeness of Jesus. This can be hard and painful – like the pruning of a rosebush or like gold being placed in the Refiner’s oven. But it is also a process where God pulls us ever closer to Him and where He reveals more and more of Himself to us. Imagine being shown bit by bit the incredibly beautiful artistry of a huge, infinite tapestry.
Many Christians and pillar-figures in our church history will agree that God had done most of His work in their lives in the most difficult of circumstances. As Charles Spurgeon said:
“I have derived more real benefit and permanent strength and growth in grace, and every precious thing, from the furnace of affliction, than I have ever derived from prosperity. Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of. Troubles, like files, take away our rust; like furnaces, they consume our dross; like winnowing-fans they drive away the chaff, and we would have but little usefulness, if we had not been made to pass through the furnace. And in all our troubles we have found the character of God a comfort, for the Refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when His gold is in the fire.”
Will you lift up your soul to the Lord and ask Him to sanctify you, whatever the cost?