My dogs T.J. and Maggie are right there at the door just waiting for me to come home. When I open the door it is like children so excited to see what gifts Santa has brought this year. They run around crazy, bringing me gifts of pillows or whatever may be sitting around that isn't attached to something. I wonder sometimes how long they have been waiting, But whether it is 5 minutes or 5 days, the excitement is always the same!
Wouldn't it be something if we got that excited about God?
In the last verse of Psalm 23, the Psalmist declares, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …”. He’s reminding himself of the truth that our God is always right behind and in front of us, weaving goodness and mercy into our misery and mess. We’re accustomed to talking about the importance of us following Jesus, but equally important is that our God in Christ follows us.
The question is, “How far back or ahead is he?” Sometimes, we can see how God took a bad thing and used it for good. A relationship ended, but it freed us up for another one. We didn’t get the job, but that freed us up for a better one. Or maybe it’s more serious. Our struggle with cancer gave us a new perspective on life. There are so many things that we cannot see in our when the circumstances of life crowd us.
But let’s be honest—there are some chapters in life that you look back on years later and still can’t see how any good came from that. Yet the Psalmist remains absolutely confident that even in the most painful, confusing chapters of his life, goodness and mercy are following him.
The arc of God’s goodness—that is, the time it takes for us to see that goodness, for it to work itself out—is often longer than we wish it were, but it’s always there, always at work. Nothing is outside our Master’s control, and not one second of our waiting, our pain or our suffering is wasted.
Sometimes, we don’t see the resolution until far in the future. Sometimes, we have to stick around to the very end to see that goodness and mercy really have been following us all the days of our lives. And for many of us, we won’t see it this side of the resurrection. Here patience is a virtue.
Indeed, we may not get to see the culmination of goodness in our lifetimes, but we might see glimpses of it. Our God is a God who loves to bless people. Psalm 27:13 says, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” In other words, his goodness is in the now, not just in the sweet by and by. So, it is by God’s grace, we wait expectantly, asking God to pour out his goodness now in the land of the living.
Let us Pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, you are all around us as we go through each and every day. Give us such an awareness of of your grace and mercy, that our hearts might be unfeignedly grateful and like the Psalmist declares, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …,” that we know also you are ahead of us and behind us all the days of our lives. AMEN.