If you lived through the sixties you may remember the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary. This influential trio sang of the socio/political issues in American culture. Their music helped awaken our nation to unity, freedom, and social justice through peaceful protests and music that has influenced several generations. Paul Stookey, a born again believer in Jesus Christ, must have experienced many ups and downs in his life as reflected in one particular song, All My Trials. The bulk of the verses in Psalm 119:81-88 reflect that theme.
The Hebrew word that begins this octave gives the sense of intense longing, desiring, even to the point of pain, for the salvation of the LORD. Interestingly, this word salvation is yeshua, the Hebrew word for Jesus. The Psalmist is faint from his trials in life and has only one hope: God’s Word. Those promises remind him to not allow the trials of life to bring hopelessness.
“When will you comfort me?” That’s his question in verse 82, however, the word comfort is not the ‘gentle arm around your shoulder’ comfort; it’s the cry of the heart that screams, “God, when are you going to stop this?!” He feels dry and lifeless, like a wineskin that’s shriveled from the heat and smoke of a fire, and he’s attempting to only make it through the day. The one thing that keeps him going in the midst of his anguish is the constant hope of God’s promises and His daily direction of what he should do (statutes). He depends on God.
What kind of suffering and trials are you enduring today? A painful past, children who are in pain, a bad marriage, physical illness? Your present circumstances are allowed into a believer’s life for good reason: they draw us closer, as this eleventh octave shows us, to Jesus.
In the midst of his suffering, losing everything, Paul longed for something:
… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10 ESV)
What was his final goal in life? I think it was to experience suffering in this life with the attitude that when we die to ourselves we are in the position of resurrection. Trials are temporary; they have a beginning and an end. God isn’t going to spare us from all suffering in life; He’s going to bring us through in victory. We’ll grow in faith and learn to totally rely on Him. That’s a good position.
Paul only quotes Jesus one time in scripture. Here it is:
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT)
Let this song encourage you today in the midst of your trial.