I'm reading in Psalm 119 now. The verse above caught my mind this morning. I cannot say that I myself am "exceedingly afflicted" right now -- right now -- but I have some friends who are. And I've been there. And I bet you have too.
I have friends in church work who are suffering, who have been booted from their beloved work and beloved people; who are so afflicted by the church politics that they would willingly shake the dust from their church shoes and be done with it!; who are soon to leave their ministry and are searching for another place; who simply have been laid off from their secular jobs and are worried about the future. All these, in my small circle of friends! I hurt for them. I hurt for their wives and families.
Another pastor friend recently shared comforting verses from Matthew 6.
To aid in memorization, I wrote out the words:
I've been trying to comfort some of my afflicted friends lately. Psalm 37 is another passage presenting itself to me for consideration over and over. "Do Not Fret," it says. Don't fret because of evildoers, because they are short-lived. Don't fret because of those who aren't afflicted like you -- be secure in God's care for you. Don't fret -- it will only make you as evil as those who are afflicting you! (That last one is so true.)
The answer to fretting about these situations is to calm your soul with trust in God. Delight in God because He is the one possession no one can take from you. And when you delight in Him, He in turn provides you with everything you need. If you are losing something you've loved it's because God has decided you don't need it right now.
It's so difficult to look at the evil that others are doing to you (especially if they are fellow-Christians) and say, "God is allowing them to do this. God is using their actions to move me on to where He really wants me to be." The anger is like a itch that demands to be scratched over and over. Don't scratch!
What is God's Word, when we are afflicted? It's the salve, the balm that we need. Don't indulge in anger; commit to forgiveness. Don't allow fear and anxiety; fight them as much as you can with the memorization of God's own words. Don't roll your eyes when I say that until you have diligently tried it yourself; it works.
If you pass the afflicted hours/weeks/months with prayers of forgiveness for those who harm you, and with a deep, steady commitment to God's Word, you'll find that you emerge on the other side of this dark valley a much better person. It's a time of spiritual growth and enrichment. You will be proving that God's plans (even the hard ones) are for your good. I say this all in love because I've been there too, and I will probably be there again. When I am, somebody please remind me of all this truth!