Read Psalm 34:17-22. 17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Just as God is never far from us, these final words of the psalm should never be far from the Christian’s lips. Every promise the psalmist clings to here is made even truer for us in Christ, starting with the “promise” that we will face many afflictions in this life. This brutal honesty about the broken heartedness of life, the cruelty of life, the overwhelming troubles of life, is actually quite comforting. God is by no means preventing suffering, but he is always aware, always in control, and always near. Even in our darkest moments God will not condemn us, and God will redeem us. Of these two things we can be sure.
But how? Because Christ, in his spirit crushing darkness, was delivered by God. How do we know? By moving from what is seen to what is not seen. What could be seen is that not one of Jesus’ bones was broken (John 19:36). And if Jesus’ death fulfilled that prophecy of Psalm 34, is it possible his death also fulfills the rest? Is it possible that by his invisible life was vindicated and redeemed by God? It is possible. It is true. It is true that in Christ you are never condemned (Rom. 8:1). It is true that in Christ you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). It is true that in Christ the Lord is always near, and nearer still in our broken heartedness (Phil. 4:5).
To live is Christ is to experience our never condemning, always redeeming, always near God.
Prayer. Jesus, your death sealed my redemption from death. Your vindication sealed my no condemnation. Help me now in my affliction to know that you are near.
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