Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me Psalms 23:4 NKJV
It is far sweeter to talk about passing through the valley of the shadow than it is to walk it. But it is also far sweeter to experience God’s presence in the dark valleys than it is to just talk it…
Soon the last colors around here will be the blue of the sky and the gray of the bare trees. But today I had to stop the car and run out into a field to capture this bit of blue and green with just a few dabs of the creator’s paintbrush left on our mountains.
Ahead lie months of slush covered roads, gray snow clouds and chilly winds. As if to say, we will be back in full leaf and beautiful again next season, the trees wave good-bye. Maybe King David was feeling down and a little sorry for himself on the day he left us these words. But just as He was headed on that downward spiral of despair and depression he caught a vision of what praise was still to be! For I shall again praise Him!
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God Psalm 42:11 ESV
Psalm 130:6 I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning!
Unlike the rhyme of English, Hebrew poetry relies among other things on repetition. Each repetition is like increasing the size of the exclamation point at the end of the phrase. Though God needs only say things once, on those occasions when He chooses to speak twice, He is responding to our need to focus on a specific subject and so He tells us again.
The subject of waiting is one that transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. None of us naturally likes to wait. We are all born with an impatience written into the code of our DNA. “My way – right away!” seems to be the motto by which we live more and more. But in Psalm 130 we see that the writer, King David has been to God’s school of patience.
If you , like myself are still in some of the lower grades in that school, be encouraged that you are enrolled in the right university. God allows us to pass through struggles and hardships today so that one day we can stand out on the shoreline and see the dawn of His patience in our lives.
In the 5th chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul lists for us the curriculum we will need in God’s classroom
Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope
Ouch, the first chapters of the patience seminar begins with suffering! But don’t drop out! Keep on because every chapter gets better. We will move on to patient endurance, then integrity of character, then finally push through to genuine hope! That patient endurance that David had learned did not just come in the mail. God trained him through years of difficulty. Each of us daily face circumstances that we will have to battle through. If we will choose to stay in the fight as King David did, then one day we will join him and all the others who can hold in our hands the diploma of God’s Hope!
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30
On the night when Judas betrayed Him; the disciples spent part of their time at the table arguing over who was the greatest and Peter almost refused the foot washing that Jesus offered. Jesus knowing that on the following day beatings, denials,spitting, nails and the cross awaited gathered the disciples together and sang a hymn.
Though we cannot know for a certainty which of the Psalms Jesus sang, it was tradition for a group of Psalms beginning with Psalm 113 to be sung at Passover. Imagine for a moment these as the opening words with the disciples joining voices with Jesus. Imagine the notes echoing as they descended the stairs from the upper room and walked up the darkening streets toward the Mount of Olives.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
Have you joined your voice with His yet today as you go out to whatever awaits? What better time can there be to sing?
How many times have you just taken others for granted? If the meal at the restaurant was good, did you ever thank the chef? When the pastor or worship leaders lifted you up by their ministry, did you take time later to thank them and then remember them in your prayers? How many of us feel lonely and unappreciated because no one has thanked us for as long as we can remember?
Yet how often have we ever paused to turn that same line of reasoning towards God? When there is a flood, a storm or an avalanche the insurance companies are quick to point out that they may not cover all the damages because it was an “act of God”. Today I was so struck by the beauty that I had to pull over and take several photos. Saint Francis is often quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel always, and when all else fails, use words.” God must be a disciple of Francis because He speaks always though rarely with words to me. He instead shouts with the bold brush stokes of skies too big for any lens to capture. He dips his brush into a palette of a thousands hues to texture every field of hay. He is an artist who revels in but is never entirely satisfied with His work. Every day he splashes across ten thousand horizons a brand new day and each night while we are snuggling down into our covers He stays up late and silently caresses the forests with a breeze.
And in the midst of all that our God is busily doing and creating ask yourself: “When was the last time I reached up, tugged on His sleeve and said, ‘Wow that was an amazing job today!’ ”
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalms 9:1