TET. We all have faced much trouble the last few years especially. Certainly, I know I have. And we are still entrenched in the realities of life in this broken world. We feel it. We experience it deeply and tragically.
Has it it all left you without hope or even the desire for good anymore? Do words of hope fall like anvils on the floor of your mind and heart? In the face of ongoing misery, how can any Christian throughout history ever dare speak of the goodness of God?
I have taken a long time, and lengthy posts, to sort out this paradox for myself. It is not doubt that drives me, for I have long ago set my reasoned belief in God’s Word. But intellectual belief and applied belief are two different animals, aren’t they? In the midst of my own griefs, is God really still good? Yes. It is difficult to articulate what is known to be true yet feels far beyond words to explain, but in my own weakness, I have tried. I am sure Jeremiah felt the his own weakness as he languished in pain and suffering over a rebellious people, his own family suffering the same calamities along with his nation. And yet it is Jeremiah who made one of the boldest statement of faith in the Bible (Lamentations 3:15)! How can that be?
All we face pales compared to the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ who came, not to preach and teach and model (though he did all those things), but to suffer and die in our place—the only death that could ever end all suffering and death forever. There, in the midst of the greatest horror, “good” was staked to the ground. And yet eternal life sprang up from it that third sunrise and flows ever onward in rivers of hope to us wherever we are, whatever we suffer. Good lives. Hope lives. Jesus lives! God is good! Jeremiah believed this and “waited” for it. He chose hope.
I have been working through this octrain in Psalm 119:65-72 for quite some time, living it out in my own life and speaking with the Lord about its statements. God has been good to teach the heart that is open to being taught. Some years ago, I wrote a studied paraphrase of each of the Prayers of Psalm 119 after much deep study and prayer. I created this website to post them so that I can have them at ready access (because I forget!). I want to read them often and to (try to) memorize this psalm as so many in the past have done.
My rote memory is not what it should or could be (or will be), but my life memory is well-grooved by this psalm. It has changed me in the midst of most difficult times, and has brought joy to me in the best times. Rereading the paraphrased prayer of TET for the millionth time, I was struck anew by the truth of every single line of it. It rings with lived out experience, the psalmists and my own. Yes, it is all true. It is all so gloriously true!
Believers in Jesus get depressed, too
It is hard to think that Believers could get depressed if we have such a hope as we have in Christ Jesus. But believers are human beings of flesh and blood just like those who do not (yet) believe. We still feel the pain of all the evils of this world. The mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers in Israel and now Gaza feel every bit of the pain of the atrocities happening there. Nothing like this should happen to anyone, we understand that! Perhaps some of them are believers in Jeshua, the Jewish Messiah. Should they not suffer?
No, Jesus did not lie to us then and He does not lie to us now. He took great pains to explain His own suffering and the suffering of His people while in this world in John chapter 16. “In this world you will have tribulation,” He told us (v33). Certainly, we will feel it! Jesus spoke with such plain words His disciples exclaimed,
God Gives Me Eyes to See His Goodness
We believe God’s promises because we experience the reality of those promises daily. The work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is to open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things from God’s Word (Psalm 119:18). That word “wondrous” means to be struck with wonder and awe, to fall down in speechless respect and appreciation. In the call of a friend, the companionship of hope with another sufferer, the truth of a passage of scripture that reaches down into the heart and mind and echoes “Yes!”, the beauty of a Tennessee morning in the country when all the farms are quieted and resting on a Sabbath, the miracle of the harvest of cotton or the miracle of an extended paycheck to meet the extra needs—these are just some of the ways our eyes are opened to the goodness of God.
These graces don’t solve every problem in life. Dementia will have its way with my loved one and I will weep for a very long time for the manifold loss. But God’s daily graces strengthen us and help us remember that our true and sure trajectory is good. That one with dementia? She is now safely in the presence of the God whom she served. My heart rests in this truth, even in its grief. We live with a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 40:25-31; Rev 21, 22).
These graces also happen to all people (because God gives “common grace” to all His beloved creatures), but it is the believer who can spot it as coming from the loving heart of God. We know these good things do not and can not come from an evil world, but can only come from a good God who loves so deeply. It is the believer who can turn around and say, “Thank you!”
God really is Good! And all that God does reallly is good! It is a new way of seeing life rather than death. Yet so many are standing outside of that hope right now. All some see is death. “Nothing will ever change” is a common mental mantra that often debilitates and destroys from the inner man; and yet change is the one thing that is feared the most! We must be willing to walk in a new direction, and that is the crux of the matter. This change in seeing can only come from a choice to believe God at His Word.
BENEDICTION: “The Goodness of God”
While re-reading the paraphrased prayer of Psalm 119:65-72, this song came tumbling into my heart and mind, “The Goodness of God”. It, too, rang every word true. The Spirit brings His Word to our minds and hearts at just the right time. This time, God’s most recent word to me and the lyrics written by Jason Ingram and others merged into one bold beautiful truth that overflowed into grateful praise smack in the middle of a sorely forgetful heart.
I looked for a way to share this song with you as a fitting benediction to this study (this one sung by popular Gospel singer, CeCe Winans, included below). I believe it was also sung by a young 17-yr old Kenyan man named JohGE on America’s Got Talent (he won!). His desire was to spread the gospel and serve the poor and needy. That is what God’s goodness does: it spreads.
I hope you will sit back and consider the truth of these words, taken from the life experience of our psalmist, the life experience of our modern psalmists (songwriters: Jason Ingram / Brian Johnson / Ed Cash / Ben Fielding / Jenn Johnson) and fresh from my own life as well. Had I the talent to put my life experience with my Father to song, this song would have been it. God bless you richly today with the wonder of His love for you…and eyes to see!
© by ReadPsalm119.com. PHOTO: “Life Overcomes the Stone”: Kauai, HI; by ReadPsalm119.com.
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. 4 In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. 5 To
you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. 10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13 Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. 17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. 18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him—may your hearts live forever! 27 All
the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the LORDand he rules over the nations. 29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive. 30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
“.16..And they took Jesus, and led him away, 17And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. . . . . 22Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
23Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose shall it be: that the scripture might be fulfilled that saith, ‘They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.’ These things therefore the soldiers did.
28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, ‘I thirst‘. 29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished!” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
35“And he [John] that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, ‘A bone of him shall not be broken.‘ 37And again another scripture saith, ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced.”
16“Jesus saith unto her, ‘Mary.’ She turned herself, and saith unto him, “Rabboni! ‘ which is to say, ‘Master!‘ —
18“Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. 19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, ‘Peace be unto you.’ 20And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.
21Then said Jesus to them again, ‘Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.’ 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost‘. . . .
24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25The other disciples therefore ssaid unto him, ‘We have seen the Lord! But he said unto them, ‘Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thurst my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
And Thomas answered and said unto him, ‘My Lord and my God!”
Jesus saith unto him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast beleived: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. —