“Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:6 CSB)
Have you ever had an experience so good that you never wanted it to end? Maybe an amazing family vacation, a birthday party, your college career, a trip abroad that opened your eyes to new things you’ve never experienced before, or maybe the BEST dessert you’ve ever had and you savor every last bite. We all have things in life that are more exhilarating than others--experiences that touch us, impact us, mold us and shape us.
We simply don’t want these moments to end because there’s something about “real life” that isn’t quite as exciting to us. We want the mountain top experiences and not the valleys. And maybe it’s just me, but when I come off
of a mountain top experience, I start to feel that my “normal” life is somewhat disappointing. I can feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, even angry. But isn’t it true that the God of the mountain is the God of the valley?
In Psalm 23, David talks about a valley. He says, “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff -- they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) The rod and the staff are one instrument, but used in two different ways. The rod was used to protect the sheep from harm--a defense mechanism. The staff is used to lead and direct the sheep.
We know, at the
beginning of this same Psalm, that David refers to the Lord as “My Shepherd.” This tells us that he sees the Lord as someone who is personally involved and is caring about David’s life in every way. He protects David from harm and leads and directs him on where to go. He takes him to those places where he “ lets him lie down in green pastures,” and He “leads him beside quiet waters.” But He is also with David when he goes through the darkest valley.
In our own lives, we must realize the comfort in this. Sometimes we are resting in green pastures. Sometimes we are resting beside quiet waters. Sometimes everything seems to be amazing and we are refreshed in the Lord and thriving. Yet sometimes we are in the valley. It feels dark and almost as if God left. Why would everything have just been so amazing to now feel like this? Why does it feel like I am alone? Why is it so hard? But the comfort in this Psalm is that we are constantly being led in and out of transition by the Shepherd--constantly being protected from harm and constantly being directed. The valley is temporary. The green pastures are temporary. The quiet waters are temporary. We will transition in and out of places all the time.
So... then... What is our anchor of hope?
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need.” (Psalm 23:1)
We have what we need for the mountain and we have what we need for the valley; and it is the same for both: Our Shepherd. The Psalm ends by saying, “ONLY goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:6)
We can be sure that the God who led us to the mountain is the God who leads us to the valley.
And we can be sure that ONLY goodness and faithful love will pursue us--those beautiful traits of the Lord will chase us down. And we will never be without the Lord as long as we live.
“Lord, I ask that this truth would sink deep into my heart that only goodness and faithful love will pursue me. I will not fear transition because you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. I will trust you in transition because you are worthy of my trust. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Written By: Lera I. Ricciuti