I cannot imagine that there is a single person of good sense who thinks the idea of affliction being experienced is a good thing—yet that is exactly what the Holy Spirit said! “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71, NKJV). As you reflect on the sentiment of the Holy Spirit, reflect on the latter part of the verse. The key to understanding is in learning what needs to find a place in the heart. Earlier in the largest of the Psalms, David wrote, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (119:11)! Paul says something similar when he wrote to the church in Colossae, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
We all struggle with doing what is right; we understand there is such a thing as right and wrong, but the overpowering pull of that which is wrong seems to pull us against our will in its direction. It only seems this way; in fact, it is this way because in our weakness we give in. It’s not that the pull is (was) so strong that we could not resist, it’s that we did not resist. The difference is notable. Thus, when the psalmist said that it was good to suffer affliction it was not because of the pain and aggravations that it brought, but because of the teaching it brought. Who of us has not already experienced such things? I have.