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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:65–72
You have dealt well with your servant,
     O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
     for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was humbled I went astray,
     but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
     teach me your statutes.
The arrogant smear me with lies,
     but with my whole heart I keep your precepts.
Their hearts are fat and gross,
     but I delight in your law.
It is good for me that I was humbled,
     so that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
     than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (NRSV)

When it comes to what we think about suffering, there is a fine line in our faith tradition between believing that good can come from suffering and believing that God causes suffering.

As people of faith, we search for meaning behind life events, both good and bad. An often repeated statement of faith maintains that “everything happens for a reason.” In retrospect, it is often possible to see that good things can in fact come from suffering. One door closes and another one opens. A health scare helps us refocus our priorities. Tragedy draws us closer together.

But do these experiences, coupled with a belief in God’s sovereignty and providence, lead to the conclusion that God actively causes suffering in order to bring about positive outcomes? Personally, I have a hard time believing that God causes suffering for any reason.

The writer of today’s psalm has both suffered and benefited from suffering. I’m grateful that the question of God’s causality is left ambiguous. Whatever each of us may believe about the origin of suffering, we can all take comfort in God’s care and the wisdom of following God’s way.

Loving God, when I am suffering and when I am well, help me to recognize your presence in my life and learn from your way. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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