Dessert and difficulty

Remember these words from Psalm 23? “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” and “You prepare a table for me in the midst of my enemies.”

This doesn’t sound like a great deal does it? Rod and staff? Those sound like weapons. We have to eat surrounded by enemies? This is a good thing?

These words let us know that following God isn’t about a life of ease and plenty. It is a life of work and hardship. But it’s also a life of being refined. We are being improved through the difficulties that God gives us. They aren’t tests or punishments. They are how God shapes us and molds us into being better people. This way when it comes time for the separation of the wheat and the chaff, we will be the wheat. God is refining us into gold.

God chooses us, but then we have to choose God. And when we choose God we’re choosing this life of being shaped by God. When the psalmist tells us “You prepare a table for me in the midst of my enemies”, it means that in the middle of a bad situation you will flourish and be well provided for. But you have to be in a bad situation. It doesn’t mean that you get the feast without the fight. You don’t get the desert without the difficulty.

Know that whenever you’re in a bad situation, one that feels impossible, know that God is with you and that God is cheering you on. God wants you to rise above it and get stronger because of that bad situation, not in spite of it. God is using it to strengthen you in the same way that anyone who wants to get stronger muscles has to pick up heavier and heavier weights.

Poem – Valley

Lord, help me to love the valleys
that runneth over,
that fall, headlong into my life.
The mountains seem so far away.

Lord, help me to love this place
You’ve called me to.
Remind me to sit down
and smell the roses
along with the ragweed.
Remind me to notice the lilies
in this valley.
It would be a shame to overlook them.

Lord, help me to love You
as I wait for things to change,
to get better,
to get going.
This valley seems to go on
longer than a road trip with my
weird old aunt.

Lord, help me to remember
that every time
You’ve led me
through these dark valleys before
You’ve always led me out.
It wasn’t always when I expected,
but it was always when I needed.

Lord, help me to love the valleys,
because it is here
that I remember
to love You.