December 9, 2010

To Live is Christ — where bad can produce good

"Sir, What is the secret of your success?" a reporter asked a successful business man.
"Two words."
"And, sir, what are they?"
"Good decisions."
"And how do you make good decisions?"
"One word."
"And sir, what is that?"
"And how do you get experience?"
"Two words."
"And, sir, what are they?"
"Bad decisions."

This well known quote about decision making has no name tied to it, but I wonder if that man was a Bible reader. He reflects the same wisdom as the verses I have been reading.

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:71–72)
While afflictions are not always from making bad decisions, a bad decision almost always makes me feel afflicted. This Hebrew word carries the idea of looking down or browbeating. It has also been translated as: humbled, forced, exercised, troubled and weakened. Sounds like the results of a bad decision to me.

Other associated words include being occupied, busied with, oppressed, bowed down, put down, become low, depressed, downcast, stooped and humiliated. None of these are pleasant experiences, yet whatever meaning the psalmist had in mind, he valued that some negative things had happened to him because through them, He was sent to Scripture and there he learned positive things.

However, when I was a new Christian, the idea of finding answers to my afflictions from the Bible was overwhelming. Where does a person look? The problems were big, but that book is bigger. I didn’t know where to begin.

Years of reading has helped me. So have other believers with more experience. One of my favorite resources is a little book by the late Selwyn Hughes called Your Personal Encourager. His 40 chapter titles include, “When God seems far away,” “When one thing comes after another,” and “When weighed down by stress.”

Another book, Overcoming Negative Thoughts, by Vera Wurtz, has 32 chapters with similar titles. Like Hughes book, this one also has Scripture that gives answers to perplexing problems and emotional meltdowns that happen during distressful times.

Whether affliction is something that happens to me, or something I bring on myself because of bad decisions, the Lord offers principles from His Word that bless me and teach me. As the psalmist says, His Word is better to me than finding a gold mine or winning a lottery.

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