Being Brought Low

I’ve been reading Psalm 119 a lot recently (maybe some of you have noticed). One theme that the psalmist returns to over and over is the theme of “being afflicted” or “being wounded” or “being brought low.”

Psalm 119 has become a roadmap for my emotions. As I consider how utterly desolate this ancient poet felt, how that resonated with Israel, and how Jesus of Nazareth must have personally connected with this Psalm, I am humbled.

But I don’t particularly care for being humbled.

Being knocked off of my pedestal, being put in my place – reminded of who I am… those aren’t things I sign up for.

The funny thing is: I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty humble person. I don’t ask for a lot. I don’t try to impress people. I don’t think I’m God’s gift to the world. I don’t think people owe me anything.

It gets funnier. I’ve realized that those very things have proved to me how proud and blinded I’ve been.

I think I am a self-sufficient provider of all things. And, it turns out, I do think that people owe me when I do something for them (i.e. my children).

That’s not good, if you’re wondering.

That’s pride in a nutshell.

It’s not necessarily arrogance, but it’s pride with a capital ‘P’.

But I would never have seen this about myself unless I had been brought low – to see that I am not the self-sufficient provider of all things. I am actually hopelessly dependent on Christ for everything – not just my spiritual health or salvation – everything. Period.

If that’s true, then I’m actually not much of a provider to my wife and children. I am, in fact, a pretty crummy middle-man. Thank God they are not actually directly dependent on me.

Of course this means, among other things, that my children don’t owe me anything. It sounds weird to say, but there it is. They don’t. Christ provides for me, and HE provides for them.

I can see this now, because I have been brought low.

Well, I should say,  I’m being brought low,” because it’s far from over.

Endlessly searching for a job, dropping out of a coding school because I couldn’t keep up, fearing and fearing and fearing every possible thing that could go wrong with the car, the van, the house…

It has all brought me very low.

And, the Psalmist smiles at me as I confess something I didn’t want to at first: it has been good for me. That smile, by the way, is not one of ridicule. The Psalmist and, what makes me even more content, King Jesus himself smiles at me knowingly.

I was brought low, and it wasn’t a bad thing at all. It was quite good.

Hard? Yes. Sought out? No. Hoping for an encore? Not particularly. But good? Yes.

What about you? Are you there? Are you feeling like you are being chipped away or sinking into the loss of yourself? Does it hurt like nothing else you’ve ever felt, like you’ve come to your wit’s end?

You’re in good company:

65 Do good to your servant
    according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
    for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good;
    teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
    I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
    but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Though a bit controversial in lyrics, I can’t think of a more honest song. It has become my song when I couldn’t sing during this time. I hope it helps as you to consider the good company you’re currently keeping:

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