Meditating on Psalm 119: 57-80.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word. (Ps. 119: 67)
In the passages of Psalm 119: 57-80, the psalmist acknowledges that his afflictions are from the Lord and they were sent to remind him he’s gone astray from the Lord’s statutes. Almost always, God sends afflictions to His people to draw them back to Him. I base my observations both from my own experience and from the many testimonies I’ve heard.
God will send all sorts of “calamities” to break us, strip us off, send us to our knees, with the purpose of calling our attention. He may do it to an individual, to a family, to a community, or to a whole country. He doesn’t do it merely to punish, but in His great faithfulness and mercy, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9, emphasis mine).
Today, my mind is particularly focused on the latest calamity that has ravaged our land, claimed over a hundred lives, and ruined properties and important landmarks. Calamity after calamity, our nation and people are battered and afflicted. Before they can even completely scrub off the hardened brown clay from off the flooded floors, posts, and walls; before the evacuees can even settle back to their damaged homes; before the communities can even start restoring devastated properties, and grief-stricken families begin to heal – another tragedy strikes.
I mourn for my country. Month after month, a catastrophe breaks out, whether force majeure – alluvion, super typhoon, earthquake, landslide, drought – or man-made – sea tragedies, corruption in government, rebellion, war – these are all designed by the soveriegn God (except for corruption, rebellion, or other immoral acts) to bring the people to repentance. To turn them away from their idolatry and immorality to worship and serve the one true living God.
If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chro. 7:13-14)
God is speaking loud and clear, but do the people hear?
God’s judgments are just and it is in His faithfulness that He does these things, with the utmost intent to reconcile the people to Him.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live… (vv. 75-77)
And whatever happens, He alone can comfort us in our sorrow; He alone can liberate us from our afflictions, and restore us, as an individual, a family, a community, or a nation.
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