“Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.” (Psalm 90:15)
The ninetieth Psalm begins with an exposition on the greatness of God, addressed to God Himself in a prayer. The prayer continues as the Psalmist recounts to the Lord His actions toward the children of men. We are then confronted with the reality of the brevity of life in the ninth and tenth verses. Before these verses and then through them and after them, we can see that the troubles to which Moses refers are caused by God’s anger, which was justly incurred by the sin of mankind. But then comes a change. There is a plea for God’s mercy: His chesed, His steadfast, unchanging love. Moses sets an example for us here in his prayer.
We know that through the death of Christ, Who acted as both High Priest and sacrificial Lamb, God’s righteous wrath was pacified and mercy to sinful man was made possible. We also know from the twelfth chapter of the book of Hebrews that God’s chastening is sent to us not only as correction for wrong-doing, but sometimes as instruction for our souls, much like a parent’s education of their children. In either case, we can follow the example Moses has set by praying to God for mercy (vs. 14). To take it a step further, Moses prays for gladness (vs. 15). How encouraging this is when we are in seasons of difficulty and heartache, whether they are self-inflicted by sin or brought to us to strengthen our faith! We may plead with the Lord for gladness to follow the days of affliction, and not only that, but for the gladness to be given in measure according to the affliction we have suffered.
This sort of prayer is sanctioned by precious promises given in the Bible. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reads, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” We are guaranteed eternal rewards when we endure trials. We may not ever know extensive seasons of earthly happiness; many of God’s chosen ones do not. But we can firmly expect -hope for- the joys that are being laid up for us in heaven. This causes us to rejoice greatly, though now for a season we are in heaviness through manifold temptation (1 Peter 1:4-6). These promises give us solid ground on which to build our prayers, for God cannot deny His own Word. This is a glorious hope for the believer, and shines before us as a light incomprehensible.
The encouragement for afflicted children of God in Psalm 90:15 is, then, to follow Moses’ example: pray for gladness.