Consider: The Great Love of the Lord

28 07 2010

Part 3 of “Consider This”

We took this picture in Mexico; a tree growing out of nowhere; so out of place. I am sure no one was crazy enough to actually plant it there; it just decided to make something good out of a bad situation.

On another note, it is easy for me to claim, “God is good,” when times are good; maybe God is good, or maybe I just got my own way. What about on a really bad day, is God as good then? This may sound like a rhetorical question; maybe I can’t quantify when God is “the most good,” but Psalm 107 has me thinking. Verse 43 says, “Consider the great love of the Lord;” it happens right at the end of a Psalm that is largely about hard things; a whole list describing very bad human experiences:

  • The Psalm says there are those who will find themselves in unfriendly spaces;
  • Some can’t find home;
  • Others hunger and thirst.
  • There are those who feel their lives “ebbing away;”
  • Some find themselves in very dark places;
  • Others find themselves in a state of deep depression.
  • There are those who find themselves prisoners;
  • Some in a bitter line of work;
  • Others are just rebelling, and life is bad because of it.
  • There are those who are in a bad place because of bad choices;
  • Some are closer to the grave then they ought to be because of foolish living;
  • Others are in perilous positions.
  • There are people in actual, physical danger;
  • Some see no alternatives to the distressing place they find themselves in;
  • Others who were successful see success fall away.
  • There are those who are humbled and humiliated;
  • Some experience actual oppression;
  • Others one calamity and sorrow after another.

There is so much pain in this Psalm, summarized for our convenience. Just take one and add real life to it and it stretches out for days, a year, many years; is God good then? Yet, read the Psalm; for every one of these hard things is God’s merciful response.

Psalm 107 seems to be saying, on bad days, in the middle of a mess, God’s goodness is all the more “divine.” His presence in our aloneness is an inexplicable and totally undeserved comfort. His loyalty to us when we have been betrayed, or when we have been the betrayer, is there beyond reason. Verses 1 and 2 say that God is good and His love endures far beyond our current circumstances into the incomprehensible “forever.” These “redeemed,” the one’s who get it about having nothing worth offering, see God’s goodness the most in His forgiveness and in His favor “in spite of” not “because of” our own perceived goodness.

On sunny days, when we are decent people, experiencing our favorite mountain-top, we feel good because we feel good. I guess it could also be said, we think we feel God because we feel good. I am not saying our worship of God is invalid during these heights of inspiration, but the depths prove everything we have read.

Contrary to what I think we think (“hard times test our mettle”), the dark depths aren’t the place where we show up, but where Christ shows up. On these days we cry and finally cry out (see verses 6, 13, 19, and 28); bad days cast a shadow over the stars in our eyes and leave us emptied, staring at what we’ve really made of things; but wait! Bad times allow us to understand something that Job knew, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

God joins us so tangibly in our most desperate times. He may seem blurry (what with the tears) but God is in the room; He is rescuing what others see as beyond rescue.  He is saving what seems beyond saving. He is using what seems unusable. He will do what He has promised and take possession of every circumstance for His ultimate good purposes. He always has the last word.

Psalm 107 ends by inviting those who want to walk wisely to take note of God’s love from this lens so we really get it about the great, and some versions say the loyal/steadfast/faithful, love of God. The Psalm says, to those of us who have limited experience with very bad days; those of us who have only dipped our toes in the ocean of suffering ought to consider that God’s great love is only made greater on impossibly bad days. Don’t forget.

Here His perfect love sharply contrasts what’s fickle and faulty about us. Here is when we “get it” about our lack of options and offerings and we can receive from Him. Here His goodness comes into clear focus: the green tree growing out of the bare cement wall.

— Teresa Klassen

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