Day 17: In the Grip of Grace
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word. (Psalm 119:67)
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you. I didn't understand that statement as a child. But now as a parent it makes perfect sense to me. Often, a mother or father has to do things that are painful in order to keep a child from going astray. And so it is with our heavenly Father. David stated in the Psalms that before he was afflicted he went astray. Then again in verse 71 he stated that afflictions also caused him to learn God's word and laws. God, as our Father, loves us and cares for us so much. And it is because of His love that He occasionally has to let us walk to into a place that might cause us pain, but it is ultimately for our good. He is holding onto us through it all, and will not let us go.
Little Timmy knows this (name changed for privacy). One afternoon he went for a swim in the pond. As Timmy was swimming away from shore, his father saw an alligator coming toward him. Panic stricken, his father began waving his arms and crying out franticly. Timmy turned and headed back to shore as fast as he could while the alligator closed the distance quickly. Just as Timmy reached the bank, the alligator grabbed his legs and his father grabbed his arms. A tug of war ensued, the alligator driven by hunger, but the father driven by love. Timmy's dad won the battle, and rushed to the hospital as quickly as he could.
A few days later, a newspaper reporter was interviewing Timmy and asked to see his scars. He raised his gown and showed the reporter several deep cuts and gashes on his legs. "These are from the alligator," Timmy told him. Then he pointed proudly to the scratches and bruises on his arms. "But these are from my dad who refused to let me go."
Let me comfort you and assure you that your trials and afflictions are doing a tremendous work in your heart and life. Though you cannot see it or understand it right now our afflictions are allowed by a Father who loves us deeply and who has our best interest at heart. They are allowed by a Father who in this spiritual tug-of-war refuses to let us go, and who will not let anyone pluck us out of His hand. What Satan intends for evil, God will use to mold us and shape us into the image of His Son, if we will allow it. God chastises and corrects those who are in His family. Our afflictions will keep us close to our Father's heart, and will keep us from going astray.
God gives us this precious promise that the work He has begun in us will be continued always until the coming of the Lord. He will never stop moving and working in our lives! Our trials will yield in us the fruit of righteousness and will perfect us and strengthen us. Our afflictions may be many, but our God will deliver us - not out of just one of them or even a few of them - but He will deliver us out of them all! (Psalm 34:19).