“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
Seems simple enough to believe, especially when our eyes see easy times. When I eat food, and I’m filled it is very easy to say. When I’m around my friends, and we laugh and have a good time it’s very easy to say. When I study enough for a test, and score a high grade. When I submit a paper, and the comments from my professor are encouraging. When I see a beautiful girl, and her speech is gentle, and her adorning is that of her inner person surely then goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
But what about when things fall apart?
What about when I’m hungry, and I cannot satisfy it, is this not goodness and mercy from the LORD?
What about when my friends depart? Or anger (whether it belongs to me or them) tears us apart. So that my only companions are darkness and depression; Is that not goodness and mercy from the LORD?
What about when I fail? Whether it be a grade, a class, a duty, a friend; Is that not goodness and mercy from the LORD
What if I am rejected by a spouse? What if an engagement is called off? What if the significant other of your dreams has no desire to begin or continue a relationship with you, because whether for good reason not, if there be any reason at all? Is God not showering me with His mercy and blessings?
Is it that God has forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1) Is God too far off to deliver me from the turmoil that has befallen me, so that I may find rest? ( Psalm 22:2)
But God says He is good, and merciful, He said that’s His name;
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” ( Exodus 34:6-7)
Am I to conclude that the LORD’s goodness and mercy has brought me into this wasteland?
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew, Luke 4:1)
Am I to conclude that that the LORD’s goodness has brought me this trouble?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Goodness and mercy is the way out of the prison of thinking I am self-sufficient, and able to do God’s work in my own strength, without any conflict or difficulty.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Goodness and mercy gives in spite of my faults, to repair my brokenness, and the things that I’ve broken in my brokenness.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)
“must believe and not doubt” means that I must know Who it is I’m asking, and what it is I’m asking for. I must begin by asking for wisdom in how to ask.
Doubt does not know what to ask for, because doubt does not seek to be informed. Doubt seeks a quick fix
“the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:6-8)
Doubt lacks stability because doubt’s hope is spread in too many loves. When one stock crashes, it jumps to another god hoping for delivery. Of course the person who thinks that way will never have a prayer answered, they wouldn’t stick around long enough to see it answered. It’s not the prayer in question, but the nature of being double-minded.
But the LORD has taught the Christian how prayers are answered;
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7)
Goodness and mercy following me is not conditional to circumstances that I perceive to be good, but goodness and mercy follow me to teach me what goodness and mercy are. Goodness and mercy surround me, but the problem is my nature (which determines my perception). This is where wisdom comes in.
“Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation”
The wisdom from above teaches me to see humble circumstances as something to take pride and rejoice in as given by . The Wisdom from above teaches me to see my “richness” and “fame” as a time to take pride in the fact that I am very small, and that I’m not as important as I would like to think. All of my achievements, absent the LORD, will be brought to nothing. It’s time to rethink why it is I do the things that I do.
“—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.” (James 1:11)
All of it is vanity. My disappointment in those things were the result of God’s wisdom
The LORD’s mercy will not leave me in disappointment. The Love of God will never put me to shame. God will never say to me “I told you so!”
The LORD’s goodness and mercy will lead me into a good place to rest, beyond the earthy gains, even through the valley of the shadow of death.