“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. . .” Psalm 23:6a
It was 12:30 am, December 12, 2016, when God’s Spirit reminded me of these verses. As I was trying to calm my body and mind, I began to quietly quote Psalm 23. My earlier evening had been spent at the hospital beside Jason’s bed . . . watching him breathe and constantly reading bedside monitors. Never would I have imagined that my 38 year old husband would suffer a life-threatening cardiac arrest and miraculously survive! (You can read his story here.)
Just the evening before, Jason and I had celebrated our 17th year of marriage with a date night. As we enjoyed a delicious meal at the steakhouse, we quietly discussed with each other how much the Lord had taught us during the trials of the past few years. We spent time discussing dreams for our future, how to better parent our children, and checked calendars for upcoming events. At some point in the conversation, I told him I had written these words to a fellow blogger, “Oftentimes, I’m prone to think God has already had me walk through the hardest struggle in losing mom. Then I stop and consider how me He has taught me and grown my faith through the struggles.” Little did I know what trial was just ahead for me and my family. I was unaware that God was already sovereignly preparing the details to save Jason’s life . . . and remind my own heart of His goodness, mercy, and grace.
For years, I unknowingly bought into the lie that if I lived my life for the Lord and “delighted myself in the Lord,” then life would be easy and God would always grant the desires of my heart – a life of countless joys, very little heartaches, and happy memories. (Honestly, I think I developed this line of thinking because my life was sheltered from the harsher realities of life. People just didn’t talk about their “mess” and therefore, I really had no concept of God’s grace found in our “messy lives.”)
However, when I lost my mom to suicide, this lie I had believed was completely shattered! To me, the words that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” were anything but true. How in the world could God’s goodness and mercy be relentlessly pursuing me in this horrible circumstance of losing my mom to an awful suicidal death? I felt He had abandoned me and totally left me out to dry! I didn’t “feel” His goodness and mercy many days that followed her death. To be honest, I still have days where I don’t “feel” His goodness and mercy . . . yet, I know He never changes.
But on this night after Jason’s heart attack, as I lie in bed quietly quoting these verses from Psalm 23, my mind and heart were quietly calmed with the truth that God is constantly pursuing me with His goodness and mercy. Especially in the difficult circumstances of life!
As I have walked the journey of grief and various other difficult trials through these past few years, I can’t even begin to count the myriad of ways that I have experienced the goodness and mercy of God. It has been in the “hard and messy” ways of life, that I have come to know God in such an intimate and refreshing way! I’ve also come to realize that God’s goodness and mercy to me doesn’t always look or feel like I may want, hope for, or think it should.
God’s goodness to me is the daily grace I’m given to face the darkness. God’s mercy is His constant forgiveness of my sin. God’s goodness to me is the daily strength to parent my children on the days I’ve wanted to curl up in bed and just cry. God’s mercy is this new chance to do life with a deeper knowing of who my God is and the love He has for me. God’s goodness to me is rooting within my soul a deep confidence that God loves me far beyond what I can imagine. God’s mercy is Him creating a new heart within me that more closely resembles His likeness. God’s goodness to me is purging me of my selfish pride and growing a new humility within. God’s mercy is leading me to live in His freedom, grace, and love.
I do not find God’s goodness to me in my set of circumstances but rather in His relentless pursuit of transforming my life into His likeness. God’s mercy is not Him granting my every desire and prayer in the way I wish for but tenderly revealing my sin in order to experience more of His forgiveness and grace.
It’s been two months since Jason’s heart attack . . . and two more months to experience the amazing goodness of God in my life and in our lives together. God clearly orchestrated all the events that led to Jason’s miracle of survival. I can trace His hand at work in each circumstance. Oftentimes, God works in small, quiet ways to show us His goodness. However, in this instance, God shouted His goodness to me in unbelievable ways! God kindly showed His mercy and goodness in sparing my husband’s life. He answered every prayer of mine above and beyond!
In recent days, I’ve had several people ask me if I’m afraid that Jason will have another heart attack. They ask me if I’m fearful in any way. They ask me if I feel nervous about letting him play basketball again.
My honest answer to each one of them has been a firm “NO.”
God has taught me to trust in His goodness and mercy that is actively pursuing me and following me all the days of my life. God is the author and giver of my faith as well. Does that mean that I always have a perfect faith and never waver? Absolutely not. I am human and will always struggle with doubt and fear. But I have this deep within knowing that
whatever God does in my life and the life of my husband is always good and for my good. Does it always feel good? NO! Does His work in my life hurt? YES.
But I can trust my good and merciful God. God’s ways are always higher and beyond my understanding. God’s love is wider and deeper than I can fathom. God’s mercies are new every morning. He gives me faith to trust Him.
I continue to learn that God is wonderfully sovereign. He is fully in control of my life and the lives of those I love and cherish. God is fully trustworthy. He is always faithful. God loves me with an extravagant love. He died for me so nothing can separate me from His love. God is amazing grace. He whispers grace to me every single day and often unexpectedly shouts His grace to remind me of who He is.
I’m learning to embrace the struggles of life that God sends my way as His goodness and mercy pursuing me . . . actively drawing my heart closer to His. I’m also reminding myself daily of the truths found in Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23
Whatever hard circumstances you find yourself in today, may you be reminded that the Lord is your shepherd.
He is good.
He is merciful.
He is our forever.