Tag Archives: despair

The Goodness of the Lord

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14, NIV*

This verse gave me a lot of comfort during a hard time. I don’t know the translation a friend sent to me, but the wording for verse 13 is “I would have despaired if I had not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (It’s similar to the NASB translation of Psalm 27:13)

I clung to that promise, repeated it over and over, and although that crisis has passed the words are still on my fridge. Things were bad, and I needed help believing there would be good days ahead.

The verse has been going through my head again this week, in the form of a song by Carolyn Arends, “Land of the Living”. Just the chorus:

I would despair
If I did not believe
That I would see again
Your hand in the land of the living.

And I saw something deeper: the promise doesn’t say anything about what this goodness will look like. Doesn’t say the pain will go away, health or wealth be restored, wars and natural disasters cease.

What it says is that we will see the goodness of the Lord.

See the goodness of the Lord.

One of the points I took from Ann Voskamp’s amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, is that sometimes God’s goodness—the grace He gives us—is hard to recognize. It comes disguised as what we call more bad news or hard times.

She also points the way to see it: “praise precedes the miracle”. As we pray, praising God for who He is, asserting our confidence in Him, He helps us recognize His hand even in the hard experiences.

If the circumstances don’t change, or while we’re waiting for the change, don’t we need to recognize—to see—the goodness of the Lord present with us? Don’t we need His goodness to get us through? That’s grace.

Father God, Giver of all good gifts, open our eyes and our spirits to see Your goodness here with us, in the land of the living. We will still pray in trust that You will deliver us from our hard places and heal our hurts, but in the here and the now, help us praise You. Praise You with no strings attached: not if You work things out a certain way, but because of who You are. And we will remember that the praise does precede the miracle, whatever that miracle will turn out to be.


I couldn’t find “Land of the Living” as an audio file, so here’s a video of my first favourite Carolyn Arends song: “Seize the Day.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Hope is Born

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6, NIV*

Jesus left the glory of heaven to be born as a human child and began the fulfillment of God’s redemption promise from Genesis.

Imagine… setting aside His rightful glory as God, submitting to the indignity of birth and infancy, to human frailty, rustic conditions and death… to redeem us. Not because He had to, but because He chose to out of love.

The world is still dark and painful. My personal prayers these days share the burden of four individuals needing work, two more grieving through the first Christmas without their husbands, one treading turbulent waters and one who needs the wholeness Jesus brings.

But if we’re open, He does bring wholeness. Hope.

We don’t have to drown in despair. Circumstances don’t get any less painful, but He came to be God with us. We don’t have to do this alone.

Somehow His grace gives us strength, His wisdom leads us, His love in our hearts warms us.

Because we trust Him, we can say “though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil…

Christmas is a hard time for people who are hurting, because the world puts on its happy mask and avoids them. But Jesus’ birth affirms the pain. That’s why He came.

I like how Charles Dickens put it in A Christmas Carol when Bob Cratchit describes his fragile son, Tiny Tim:

“Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” [You can read A Christmas Carol online at Literature.org. This quote comes from chapter 3.]

Father, how can we help but love and praise You for reaching into our mess to bring hope and healing? This Christmas season, may we celebrate Your greatest gift, may Your love flow through us to those we touch, and may the world in its turmoil somehow pause to receive its King. Thank You that someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess Him as Lord. Until then, have mercy on us all.

This week’s song is “Celebrate the Child,” by Michael Card. Let’s celebrate indeed!

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.