“You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies…” (Psalm 23)
All of us prefer things to go well. We like sunny days when we plan a picnic. Warm days for the lake. Clear roads to travel in winter. In fact, the desire for thing to not go well would be a sign of something not quite right about our spirit and our attitude.
But life is more complex than that. It rains at inconvenient times. Cold fronts come through when we are hoping for warm weather. And snow can not only interrupt our plans but shut entire regions down for days.
In our personal lives, this is also true. We long for wholeness and yet experience pain and brokenness. We know that some of our deepest pains and most difficult times have left scars on us that will always be with us. And we wonder about the nature of God and God’s world when it is our turn to hurt.
Psalm 23 gives us some insight from someone who has a mature faith and the ability to look back over their story with some clarity. Having experienced both the good times and the bad ones, the Psalmist knows that God is good always. But that goodness has been most evident and most appreciated in the midst of crises. “By the still waters,” the Psalmist writes about God who is “the Lord.” But in the presence of enemies, the Psalmist writes about God who is “you.” The distance in their relationship has diminished. In the struggle the Psalmist’s relationship with God becomes more intimate and all the more appreciated.
In your life, as you encounter both good times and struggles, remember to be thankful in all things but to also see struggles as a chance to rely more fully on the mercy and goodness of a God who wants to be as close to you as possible through all things.