God’s people suffer, sometimes justly and sometimes unjustly. Either way, they trust in Him to deliver them for further service or to take them to glory.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” Psalm 40:13-15
So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. Acts 23:31
The Psalmist endured much pain partly from his own sin and partly from the severe oppression that was mounted against him unjustly. There is a difference between suffering due to our own sin and suffering due to being God’s servant. [See First Peter 2:18-25]. But it is often not easy to separate our suffering into such neat, clean categories. The Psalmist was suffering and in these laments he mixes the two causes and appeals to the Lord for forgiveness and deliverance. Unlike Job, he recognizes some responsibility for what he is having to endure but also cries out for relief from those who plot against him unjustly (Psalm 38:3-4,11-12, 17-20; 40:12).
The events of Paul’s life show the power of God working providentially to preserve him from unjust suffering and for further service. Forty men conspire to kill him. His nephew overhears the plot and reports it to Paul. Paul wisely asks the centurion to take his nephew to the tribune. The tribune takes immediate action and rescues Paul whom he then sends to the governor for trial, and, let us add, to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine how the conspirators were completely “put to shame and disappointed altogether”!
Think about it
Most of us do not suffer such opposition as Paul did, but we do suffer in smaller ways. Do you know that He watches over you? Do you know that while you may feel that your iniquities are more than the hairs of your head (40:12) God’s care for you is such that He has the hairs of your head numbered and your iniquities covered by the blood of Christ (Luke 12:4-7; 24:44-47)? Trust His providential care. No one can thwart His plan for you. No, not even yourself.