More than anything, it’s people that have tried to persuade me that God cannot be relied up to help us.
“What if God doesn’t heal?
What if God doesn’t provide?
What if God doesn’t come through?
Does God really act on our behalf?
Is God really involved in our lives and does he care?
Will God really look after me?”
Psalm 16–the writer–is saying…YES! He says,
‘I always put the LORD in front of me; I will not stumble because he is on my right side. You teach me the way of life. In your presence is total celebration. Beautiful things are always in your right hand.’Psalms 16:8,11
John Goldingay says,
The psalm knows that if you want to enjoy a full life in this world, you are wise to look to the God who devised this bodily life for us…I am confident that I will be OK, not because I secretly turn to other deities but because I do rely on Yahweh, the one who guides me, the one whose voice I heed in the darkness of night when some people might secretly look in other directions.Psalms For Everyone, John Goldingay
As a chaplain, I’ve received the calls and heard the stories:
“Chap, I got cancer.
I need surgery.
I had a stroke.
I got covid and hospitalized with a 10% chance of surviving.
I lost my job and they’re gonna foreclose on my house.
My mother died. She was my rock.
My marriage is ending. She had an affair.
I didn’t achieve the dreams and goals I made for myself.
I don’t know what to do with my life.”
These are painful realities. There are no quick fixes. I have noticed a difference in responses and reactions from people though. People who have faith in a God who is with them seem to have a deeper hope and resiliency. They are able to share their anguish and sorrow but the story doesn’t stop there. They say things like,
“Whatever happens, I’ll be ok.
I’m in God’s hands.
I’ve done what I can.
The rest is not up to me.
I’m praying for peace, joy, and hope in the midst of this trial.
I can still love others.”
These conversations happen in the hospital room, hospice, or in someone’s living room. They’re obscure places, hidden, in solitude. They smile and gently squeeze my hands, assuring ME that they’re going to be ok. There is a lightness in the room, a sense that whatever fear or worry they’ve had, it’s been shared with Jesus and He is assisting in carrying the cross with them.
The Psalmist is calling us to look to the God who is the creator of life as we go through our own journeys. As Christ followers, we make a decision every day to respond to God’s presence in our lives. We pray, we listen, we act on behalf of His good purposes. We make time to meditate on the wisdom tradition passed down to us. We learn to know the rhythms of grace and to foster an awareness of when God is speaking and leading. And when God does “show up”, He shows out.
To follow Jesus is to enter into the fullness of life NOW. Psalm 16 reminds us to show up to our lives and to be attentive to God’s presence as the One who loves us and shepherds us into the fullness of joy.