I reflected on the ever-popular and palpable Psalm 23 yesterday and I wanted to go a bit deeper today. Particularly verse 4…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
In this Psalm, God is recognized as being with us. Comforting us.
God doesn’t remove us from our trials. God is with us through our trials - even through death itself.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, I start thinking of God as a cosmic slot machine of sorts. If I just play God right (or if I play my life right), God will cash me out and remove me from all of my inconvenience, pain, and suffering.
This sounds great until I realize it isn’t real.
It isn’t even helpful.
It isn’t real because nothing removes us from pain and suffering - even a real-life jackpot. Sure, it might help a little (or a lot) in some ways (or even a lot of ways), but human suffering and the specter of death still remain.
It isn’t helpful because when I’m in a bad way, I can easily feel like God hasn’t shown up. I can keep trying to pull that cosmic lever through prayer and good works but meanwhile, until God removes me from this sorrow, I’m all alone.
But when I carry the notion that God is with me through my sorrow and suffering - even my death - I’m never alone. New life is never out of reach.
It’s weird how God’s comfort and support can be present amid human suffering. Amid divorce, alienation, job loss, cancer diagnosis, public shame, embarrassment, and yes, even amidst that last breath (and beyond), God is with us holding us in place.
Grace + Godspeed,