10th July 2017

A Psalm for the Suffering

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits”
Psalm 103:2 (NIV) 

It is not easy to remember the Lord’s benefits and praise him when you are struggling with sickness or going through a hard time; you can think that God has forgotten you. But this psalm encourages us to praise God in the midst of what we are going through, to remember his goodness in the past and to trust that he is in charge of the future.

David begins by telling himself to praise the Lord with all his heart and soul (verse1). Sometimes we may not feel like praising God and we have to tell ourselves to. We have to actively remind ourselves of God’s goodness to us; of how he has been at work in our lives. When we are suffering it is easy to feel abandoned by God but we are to actively remember all of his benefits and this can enable us to praise him with all our hearts, even when we are suffering.

David reminds us that God is our healer (verse 3) and that in redeeming our life we have been crowned with love and compassion (verse 4). Even at times when it is difficult to praise God for anything, remember your salvation and praise him for that.

When we are going through hard times it’s easy to wonder whether what we are experiencing has something to do with bad things we have done. We look back on those things and wonder if God is punishing us or has removed his care from us. It’s a common question to ask, but David tells us that God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve or repay us when we do bad things in a ‘Karma’ like way (verse 10). It is just not God’s way to repay our good work with good situations in life, and our bad with bad things. He doesn’t treat us like that. He is not a master who repays us for the good work we do but punishes us for the bad. No, he is a Father who has compassion on those who fear him (verse 13). He has removed our sins from us as far as they could possibly be removed – as far as the east is from the west – so we can be sure that when we are experiencing hardship, it is not punishment for our sin (verse 12).

God knows we are like dust; we are frail and our lives will come to an end (verses .14-16), yet he also remembers us in death. Even in death we can have assurance that God hasn’t forsaken us and his love is with us from everlasting to everlasting (verse 17). He is in control of everything, king over all (verses 19-22), and our future is secure despite our struggles.

Praise the Lord, my soul (verse 22).

Prayer
Father, thank you that you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
LONDON SE5 7HN

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11 am

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: barry_robinson@wcg.org.uk

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