READ: Psalms 85-88
THINK: Have you ever experienced-or watched someone else experience-a long, difficult time of trouble, tragedy or turmoil that left you asking, "Why?" and wondering if any good could ever come of it? Perhaps the last thing on your mind was how you were growing and what you were learning through the situation. That's not to say that everyone who suffers has to learn a lesson. We'll never find reasons or answers for many difficulties in this lifetime. But every earthly trial that you experience provides an opportunity to rely on God in a way that seldom happens when things are smooth and easy. After all, it often takes more faith to go through a trial than it does to escape one. Throughout history, God's most faithful followers have endured the most trying times. But they never gave up hope that He would bring them through to the other side-whether in this life, or the eternal life to come.
RESPOND: What should God's people do when they feel spiritually dry or empty? (See 85:6 note.) What's necessary- on God's part and ours-in order to experience spiritual salvation and vitality? (See 85:6 note.) According to Psalm 85:8-9, who experiences God's salvation, and what are the conditions for enjoying God's peace? What do you think it means that "love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other" (85:10)? How does this describe God's character and benefits in people's lives? What is the writer's attitude in Psalm 86, and why is this attitude necessary for effective prayer? (See 86:1 note.) Why did the writer ask God, "Teach me your way, O LORD" (86:11), and how is this an example to us during tough times? What's the attitude of the writer in Psalm 88, and why does he keep praying even though his circumstances haven't changed? (See 88:1-18 note.) Why does God sometimes permit times of sadness and despair in our lives, and what good can come through such times?
PRAY: Give God thanks for His salvation and peace, and for His constant love and faithfulness. Ask God to teach you His ways so you can follow Him and promote His truth, regardless of difficulties or suffering you face.
ACT: In everything you do today-particularly the more difficult things-ask God to teach you something about Him and His purposes for you. Put into practice what He shows you. Do everything with a humble attitude.
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