Tenth letter of the AlephBeth
Affliction is a theme that runs throughout the twenty-two acrostic poems of this Psalm 119. It is affliction that gets my attention, it is through hardships that God shapes my heart, it is pain that God uses as a megaphone - to paraphrase C.S. Lewis. This author understands his suffering like this: I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
In faithfulness you have afflicted me?
He goes on to write - almost paradoxically: May your unfailing love be my comfort. In faithfulness, God afflicts me; by unfailing love, God comforts me. Why would God afflict me, and then comfort me?
God afflicts me when I don't love my neighbor...when I grow apathetic, lazy, indifferent, haughty, mean towards any neighbor, God may need to afflict me...make sure my sins find me out so that I can be humbled, become merciful, and love my neighbor.
When would God comfort me? When my neighbors are apathetic, lazy, indifferent, haughty, mean towards me. I need my neighbor to love me. I can't make my neighbor love me, and God can't make my neighbor love me, but he can induce my neighbor to love...but not out of vindictiveness or pettiness. God is good, so whatever hardship he brings, it is such that it is good, and can produce good, if I don't fear it or hate it.
So if you find yourself mired in affliction, take a moment to consider how it is connected to the neighbor(s) you are apathetic, lazy, indifferent, etc towards. And then be the answer to their prayer: Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.