Because of the Fall, the broken in our world and ourselves travels with us as we walk with Him. In this melding of His sovereignty and the free will of humanity, I both wrestle with and wait upon Him.
There is a song we sing at church that reminds me of these questions. It is one of my favorite, modern worship songs, and it is called, “Goodness Of God.” Its words truly bring me into beholding, rejoicing in, and remembering the unending goodness of our God. But, when I sing it, I also remember those who are singing after they have lost a spouse, child, friend, or are in the midst of serious health and/or life battles. Remembering that they are singing of His goodness while carrying trauma, loss, and struggle has been such a call to me in my own.
Psalm 23 has become a blessed rope I hold onto amidst these questions. It considers and acknowledges the dark we battle so fiercely, yet it calls us to rest, to hold onto His Presence, and to a feast before our enemies as we do. These callings both shake me to my core and reduce me to a puddle of awe and relief.
I haven’t mined every good gift in this Psalm, but here are a few God is using to shape me...
His Rest—God will give us rest. What goodness, what stunning goodness this promise is. Somehow, He will provide it. Psalm 23:2— “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” Sometimes, He will make us rest, sometimes He will lead us to it. May we not resist Him but drink in such ministry from Him— for He longs to “restore” our souls (Ps. 23:3).
His Presence—He will be near in every moment and reality we face, even in the shadows and valleys of death. Ps. 23:4— “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” We will struggle and face agony, but we will not be alone. He will never abandon us-- ever, ever, ever….ever.
His Feast—Despite all, He will provide a table for us to feast amidst our enemies. Ps. 23:5- “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” God will anoint us, bless us, fill us up, provide a place of respite for us in the very midst of evil in our lives. How can that be?!! I do not know, but it is. It is, and this goodness we will witness in the midst of those who long for our downfall-- especially our biggest enemy, the evil one-- will carry us in such struggle.
I want to remember these truths and pray them over others as we face the dark. For those I sing with in spirit and faith through heartbreak, loss, and desolation— I pray, lament, mourn and pray some more for them to rest in Him, know His Presence, and to find a table of refreshing in their darkest places. Moreover, in the last verse in this Psalm, God promises that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (6). My prayer is for His goodness and mercy to fall upon them in these most desperate and desert places. As He promised Israel through the prophet Isaiah (43:19)— “I will make a way in the wilderness.” I pray for God to make such a way in the desolate wilderness, as only He can do- thank You, Jesus, for the cross and empty tomb!
And, in my darkest places, I am finding the goodness He promises in these words, too. He promised it for every day of our lives as verse 6 promises. Even in the dark, He is there with us. It can be such a costly discovery because the pains are deep, but I continue to see Him lead me, even in my fledgling and weak faith, to a table laden with a feast in the very Presence of God. For, He is our Manna and the Water from which we will never thirst. Hallelujah!!
May we find the goodness of God covering us in every way and in every abundance and sorrow, the very Presence of our God in our midst. And, may we be found praising His goodness to us, especially for the gift of His Son- the Redeemer of every moment and season of our lives.