The second section of Psalm 118 could be considered such a "list of troubles." Enemies, blazing fires, swarming bees, humiliations, and despair were all part of the psalmist's experience. But they were not the end of the story. In the Lord's Name [he] crushed his enemies. Falling, he found that the Lord came to help him. On the brink of death, the Lord's right hand triumphed and raised him up to life. The psalmist's "troubles" were "blessings" precisely because they were events where God entered his life in a deeper, stronger, more decisive way.

Our Lord, who sang Psalm 118 on the night before His Passion, was quite open about the "troubles" His disciples would face. They would be persecuted, reviled, delivered up, flogged, unjustly condemned, hated and killed. cf. Matt. 5:11; 10:17-22 Yet that would not be the end of their story. Jesus gave them His word: I am with you always. Matt. 28:20

 

This was St. Paul's experience. He candidly notes the "troubles" he endured for Christ's sake: labors, imprisonments, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, and cold. 2 Cor. 11:23-27 But Paul also exultantly proclaims: In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us! Romans 8:37 Why? Because like the psalmist, Paul could declare: The Lord came to help me! The Lord stood by me and gave me strength. 2 Timothy 4:16

 

St. Francis of Assisi could have compiled a long "list of troubles." Sickness, temptation, disappointment, betrayal, misunderstanding, hunger, thirst, blindness and pain were part of his life. But, once our Lord assured him that these earthly "troubles" were a prelude to heavenly "blessings," the Little Poor Man embarked with even greater fervor on the path of thanksgiving. I must rejoice greatly in my illnesses and troubles and be consoled in the Lord for such a great grace and blessing, Francis declared.
THE ASSISI COMPILATION, 83

 

While most of us will not reach the spiritual heights of a St. Paul or St. Francis, all of us can use this part of Psalm 118 to exercise our spiritual vision. For who cannot look back on times when hard-pressed, cast down and falling, the Lord came to help us? Do not these unexpected moments ofjoy and victory give us reason to proclaim:
The Lord is my strength and my song; He is my Savior.
ALLELUIA!

 





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Psalm 118

 

II

The nations all encompassed me;
in the Lord's Name I crushed them.
They compassed me, compassed me about;
in the Lord's Name I crushed them.
They compassed me about like bees;
they blazed like afire among thorns
In the Lord's Name I crushed them.
I was hard-pressed and was falling,
but the Lord came to help me
The Lord is my strength and my song;
He is my savior.
There are shouts of joy
and victory in the tents of the just.

The Lord's right hand has triumphed,
His right hand raised me.
The Lord's right hand has triumphed;
I shall not die,
I shall live and recount His deeds.
I was punished,
I was punished by the Lord,
but not doomed to die.

 

Part 15
From Troubles to Blessings