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A Life Blessed By Difficulty

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”  Psalm 41:9

Psalm forty-one is a psalm of praise to God for the blessing of strength and protection he gives the godly in their times of distress. What’s clear from this psalm is that great difficulty and trials do come upon the righteous but that God is present in these times of trial holding the hardships within limits and strengthening the righteous to faithfully bear the ordeals. 

David, of course, given that he’s writing this psalm hundreds of years before Jesus was even born, doesn’t make any reference to our companionship with our Savior as we bear with the burdens of suffering in this life but if he had been a New Testament writer he could have, and our focus text is certainly prophetic as it applies to the experience of Jesus. 

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

As soon as I read these words my thoughts turned to Judas. For three years Judas traveled and labored with Jesus sharing in his labors and ministry. His was the privilege of listening as our Savior taught. He was there when the Jewish leaders came endeavoring to entrap and belittle Jesus, and he heard each time as Jesus gently but firmly repelled their attacks. Judas was there with the other disciples as the people came presenting their sick,, injured, blind, lame, deaf, and possessed, and he saw Jesus heal and restore everyone. Judas was part of the groups of disciples that were sent out to proclaim Jesus and repeat his teachings throughout Galilee. He too had been blessed with authority over the sick and possessed and had healed in the name of Jesus. Judas was there for the multiplying of the loaves and fishes. He was there when Jesus calmed the storm. He was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. 

Without question describing Judas as Jesus’ familiar friend in whom he trusted is an apt and accurate description.

The phrase, “who ate my bread,” brings to mind the last time Jesus and Judas shared a meal together. It was the final Passover and Judas was sitting in the seat of honor to Jesus’ left. Both Matthew and John, in their gospel accounts, record that Jesus shared his bread with Judas. John is most explicit when he describes Jesus taking bread, dipping it in the oil and giving it to Judas. 

Many times as we endure our own trials and afflictions, even disappointments and betrayals by close friends, we’re tempted to feel that God has somehow let us down and failed us by not completely sheltering us from hardship. But friends, scripture never promises us freedom from difficulty on this sin filled world. God’s protection is assured in the midst of the trials. And we, like the apostles, can count it a privilege to have a share in a life of trial much like the one lived by our Savior. But freedom from pain is only promised when God welcomes us to the earth made new. 

Dear Jesus. You honor me by giving me a share in your life, ministry, and suffering. Make me able to stand faithful so that I can be an effective witness for you. Keep me faithfully yours till to come to take us home. 

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