Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
Because God is working everything together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) believers need never fear bad news. Even those things that initially seem bad will in retrospect have contained great blessings.
I’m not talking about the logical consequences of illegal, immoral or just plain foolish behavior. A Christian who robs a convenience store should not be surprised to discover the police at his door with a few questions they’ve come to ask. And one who invests in a too-good-to-be-true financial scheme should not be disappointed if the Lord fails to cover his losses.
And although God is great at turning the lemons we hand Him into lemonade, we should not necessarily expect deliverance from the effects of our self destructive behavior. For example, a Christian and life long smoker contracts lung cancer. While in the hospital the grace with which he endures this lethal attack upon his person inspires others to ask about the source of his strength. As a result of the conversations that follow, several are brought to a saving faith before the smoker succumbs. Did God give the man cancer just so He could get a few hospital workers saved? Of course not. But knowing beforehand the consequences of his life of smoking, the Lord invested him with an extra measure of grace to endure them, so that when the disease came He could be glorified through it.
We who’ve been washed in the Blood and have thereby imputed to ourselves the righteousness of God needn’t fear even the future I’ve described above. If our hypothetical cancer victim could come back for a visit, he would enthusiastically assure us that while the wisdom of his behavioral choice was questionable, the result of his early departure from this dark and dying world was a blessing beyond measure. To a believer, death is the perfect healing after all.
As soon as we train ourselves to give no consideration to the potential outcomes of our life’s trials and resolve to leave them all in the Lord’s hands, we’ll see verses 7 and 8 coming true in our lives. We’ll have no fear of bad news, our hearts will be steadfast, trusting in the Lord, and in the end we’ll look in triumph on our foes.
The abrupt and unforeseen elimination of our job will result in a great opportunity for service, or a chance to simplify our lives, or both. A catastrophic injury or illness will provide a chance to re-order our priorities. The sudden loss of our financial security will lead to freedom from the bondage of our materialistic lives. A friend’s betrayal will cause us to rely only on the Lord and receive the great blessings that result.
I think Paul said it best. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)