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It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Ps. 119:71

Dear heavenly Father, only a humble certainty about your love, and a robust passion for your glory, could’ve moved King David to praise you for the “gift” of affliction. Such a notion contradicts much of the prevailing theology of our day, and the basic instinct of my own heart. Oh, how the gospel turns everything upside down, and then, right side up!

I well remember all the years I spent trying to spiritually finagle my way out of harm’s way—believing that if I just claimed the right verses, prayed the right prayers, did the right things, then I’d have an “abundant life” filled with “blessings,” and marked by a scarcity of difficulties.

In certain ways, I wanted you to be more like a “sugar daddy” rather than the “Abba, Father,” that you are. How arrogant of me to assume the right to define what is and isn’t “a blessing”. How shallow of me to presume that an abundant life would only consist of enjoyable moments and creature comforts.

I wasn’t thinking about learning your decrees, but about escaping discomfort. I wasn’t longing for your glory to be revealed on earth, as much as I was anxious to enjoy the benefits of your heaven. I wasn’t praying to enter into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, as much as to escape as much suffering as possible.

But, Lord Jesus, it’s because you took all the affliction and judgment I deserve, as a sinful rebel (2 Cor. 5:21), that I’m now only disciplined as a beloved son. Because of you, Lord Jesus, I’m not afraid of God as my judge, but I revere and love him as my Father. Because you perfectly fulfilled all the decrees of God for me, I no longer despise or dread them, but actually find delight in them. I praise you that the gospel is true, life-giving, and heart-transforming!

Holy Spirit, I gratefully, and expectantly, ask you to keep me in this journey and joy of gospel freedom—even in this one day. Keep freeing from all kinds of foolish notion I have about God and the gospel. May I find great joy today in loving and serving others today, even as Jesus has served and loves me. So very Amen I pray, in the transcendent and tender name of Jesus.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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