There is a misconception that if one is in a relationship with God that their lives will be all rainbows, butterflies, and banquets. We only need to read the accounts of the righteous man Job, the trials of the patriarch Joseph, or about the suffering servant which is our Lord to know that this is not the case. While I am not going to spend time here exploring Irenaeus’ arguments as to why suffering and hardship might befall us, it is still relevant that God (as the Lynn Anderson song puts it): “never promised you a rose garden.”
You see God gave us a garden once, and made the rules of tenancy really simple: “Don’t eat from that one tree.” What did we (as humanity) do? We ate from it of course. Since then we have paid the natural and logical consequences of disobedience.
“But that is so unfair,” people protest. Fairness is in reality about justice. Justice says that we should be treated according to a consistent standard of rules or law. We did the crime, now we are paying the fine. Yes, there are others that seem to be even less worthy than ourselves (a human perspective – as all have sinned) that seem to prosper. Just chalk that one up to the “unfairness” of the world we have created from our original disobedience.
The Psalmist was under no delusion of “the Gospel of Prosperity.” Serving God does not give us a promise of those aforementioned butterflies and banquets. It does however give us a promise of God’s care, concern, and provision of our needs.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The Lord is my shepherd, I will have what I need (not what I greed). He may not give me an earthly mansion, but He will give me safe places to reside, and refresh me when I am feeling the burdens of the world. Even in those dark lonely places – He is with me. And my enemies and tormenters will know He is with me because those needs are being met. He loves me, no matter if it is in the belly of Jonah’s fish, or in Joseph’s prison cell. But best of all – there awaits a place me which humbles any garden (rose or otherwise), for it is in the dwelling place of the Lord and it is forever.
Some musings on trials and struggles.