The Righteous Suffer (Psalm 34)
Reading: Psalm 34
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all… Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
Kara Tippets was an excellent writer. She had a lovely family. Her husband was a church planter out in Colorado. And when she got cancer, she wrote about her affliction and the ups and downs of here faith in God, and about the struggle of knowing that she was almost certainly going to die. And so she did.
Her life reveals to us the uncomfortable truth that affliction reaches even those who are righteous. Kara loved God, knew about the grace and forgiveness of Jesus, and lived out Christ’s call to follow him. And yet, cancer struck her and stole her away from her family and friends.
We would like to think that righteous living is some sort of protection against suffering and affliction. But it’s not. In fact, as David writes, “many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Indeed, Jesus even said that suffering would come because of our righteousness.
But there is a difference between the righteous and the wicked. It’s not that one escapes suffering and the other must endure it. Instead, it is that the righteous know that God will deliver them out of it in the end. The righteous have hope of salvation. For “the Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
And really, is this hope not our secret weapon against suffering? Don’t we who have confidence in the Lord know at least one thing? “My God will rescue me one day, and free from the bonds of suffering forever.”
And this is not because we are righteous; it is because he is gracious.
Father, forgive us our grumbling and complaining. Free us to endure suffering as those who are certain of their future hope. Grant us gratitude in Jesus for the life that we are able to live—and in the life to come. We long for the day when all our grief is over. But for now, strengthen your servant.