Psalm 34

In contrast to prosperity gospel preachers who falsely promise earthly riches, or even great songs that teach, “There may be trouble ahead…” Jesus realistically warns, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

The question then, isn’t whether we will experience affliction but how we will handle it when it comes our way.

So, how do you respond to times of trouble? When squeezed or under pressure, what comes out? What does the look on your face or your mouth say about you?

Some doubt their faith, and question God; others go a step further, blaming others, and even cursing God. There are those who prefer to live in denial and pretend it’s not happening. A few are incapacitated by fear.

Many of us lean on our parents, our job or profession, our mate, or our bank balance in such times only to find that these crutches, which become substitutes for God, aren’t satisfactory; they offer only temporary relief at best before collapsing, leaving us crumpled in a heap.

This is why Psalm 34 is so important, for in it David teaches us how we can “face the music and dance”. The psalm is an A-Z for addressing affliction. It’s an alphabetical acrostic poem; each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Only, it’s missing one letter (waw) – perhaps deliberately – to remind us that we cannot make troubling times fit a formula; they are far too unpredictable for that. The broken acrostic reflects the truth that life itself is a broken pattern, and ultimately authentic faith, not formulas will see us through troubled waters.

In Psalm 34 David encourages the afflicted to praise God and honestly seek Him in prayer. Times of testing are a wonderful opportunity he says, to “taste and see that the Lord is good!”, to prove and experience His goodness, thereby showing the world outside the church the authenticity of our faith. What better way to answer people’s spiritual questions than by demonstrating the robust and real hope the gospel offers in the afflictions we all face in life.

Are you authentic in affliction?