Goodness and Mercy in The Shadow of Death

(written December 9, 2011)

Coming across a promise of God that is stated in the Bible is very different for me now. I feel like I have to stick my circumstance into the verse and read it that way in order to process it. One caught me today in Psalm 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The psalmist is so certain, surely, goodness and mercy will follow me. So, God’s goodness and mercy, it’s not just only there in the good days, but all your days. When I read that I rewind it for a second and say to myself, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, including the day Haddon died.” So, because all my days include a death of my firstborn, I’m glad the psalmist includes all my days and I’m glad he includes surely, telling us it’s not just a sentimental thought to use however you want. And as I sit here tonight, having some fears about getting back into our day to day routine (sometimes it’s just the normal days that are so difficult without Haddon), I can read about God’s  goodness and mercy that are promised me tomorrow.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is written after the psalmist writes “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” The goodness and mercy of God follow you, even through the valley of the shadow of death? I’ve seen the valley. God promises his goodness and mercy in the very shadow of death. When we sing in church, and any song includes a “valley”, like a trial or suffering, I have to fight back tears. There’s so much meaning behind singing of God bringing me through a valley now, because it’s real, it’s not a general valley. I remember a few days after Haddon went to be with Jesus and we had all our family in our house. I was doing fine, then heavy grief hit me like a train and I panicked. What do you do? People picked it up rather quickly I think that I wasn’t doing well and started to leave, and I went to my bed. I wept so hard, harder and even louder than I have in my whole life. So as I read about God’s goodness and mercy following me all the days of my life, I think about that day, my lowest day. God promises that even on that day there was goodness and mercy.
Practically, I wonder what God’s goodness and mercy look like to me. And how do they follow me everyday? There could be several things mentioned here. I feel like trusting that there is goodness and mercy following me every day, means I have to also be trusting the bigger picture. I think it means I have to remember God has given me salvation that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading made possible through Jesus, and that there is coming a day when Christ will return and the suffering I’m experiencing now will result in the praise of Him. That’s another promise found in 1 Peter chapter 1, and that’s what I think of when I read about goodness and mercy following me, leading up to his great return, and we get to see all trials and suffering bring glory to him, and seeing that suffering will also be no more. That’s  another promise in Revelation 21.
So (as if I haven’t typed it enough times in this post) “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”, including the difficult days of getting back into routine tomorrow.

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