I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalms 27:13-14)
Just one of the benefits of being "in Christ" and a child of God is that no matter how dark it gets, no matter the trial, no matter the evil around you, or the devastation you face, we know we'll see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We know that we have hope and that there is something good to look to. The world does not have that hope. They have to make good here and now, however and by whatever means possible. Those outside of Christ must get for themselves whatever they can, and when there is loss of all they thought was their life in this world, they are without hope. And when death comes, their heaven is past, and they have nothing to look forward to. For them, this earth was the closest they will ever be to Heaven. They enjoyed God's goodness even though never recognizing it as His or coming from Him. They enjoyed life which was a gift from Him. They enjoyed food, laughter, love, provision for their needs, and all was from His hand, yet they never recognized it as His, so they used it up for themselves however they could, worshipping the things created rather than the Creator; and when it was gone they found themselves separated from Him and all that came from His hand. His rain and His sunshine fall on the just and on the unjust. People don't recognize His goodness even while they are enjoying it. They never have enough to satisfy, and without Him, they never will. Self-love can never be satisfied.
It should never be so for His own children though. How much we need to see and recognize His goodness to us, even now in a fallen world, where sin has corrupted and brought suffering and harshness to life. Rather than be surprised at the evil we see, we should be all the more surprised it has not gotten worse than it is by now, and that the goodness of the Lord is still around us for us to hope for and enjoy and know that it is only a foreshadow of things to come that He has for us. His goodness in this world at this time is polluted and corrupted by the selfishness and hardness of mankind who refuse to give Him glory (Romans 1:18-32). What they suffer as a result is merely God giving them over to what they wanted and asked for.
But as believers, we have the opportunity now to look at His goodness, to see His goodness surrounding us. We have opportunity to give Him glory even in the hardships suffered to always see the goodness of the Lord that we enjoy. It's human nature to look at the bad and totally miss the good. So we miss the glory of the Lord in our trials. We forget all the promises He has given us for each and every one and we focus on our pain. Yet when we begin to be thankful for the goodness of the Lord to us, and recognize His blessings we are lifted up and strengthened to endure all else. In the Lord, there is always hope, and always goodness, and always praise. There is always reason to give thanks. The fact that He lives in you and wants to fellowship with you is reason alone for praise. The fact that He promises that any evil in this world however it touches you will not hurt you but will be used for your good, is great reason to praise Him. The fact that not one single thing can come your way without passing first through His nail-scarred hands is reason for praise. The fact that nothing below or above can separate you from His love is reason for praise. The fact that He has sealed you with His Holy Spirit and given you a promise that you have an inheritance in His kingdom forever and ever and will never pass away or become defiled in any way, is reason for praise.
As Corrie Ten Boom once said, "There is no pit so deep, that Jesus is not deeper still" (The Hiding Place).
This is the season for thanksgiving. We have a holiday one day a year to give thanks. We've experienced the goodness of the Lord in many ways every day, that we are probably oblivious to. Things could always be worse than they are. Thank God they aren't. Thank God we have the goodness of the Lord in our hearts and we don't have to be overcome by evil but through Christ in us, can overcome evil with good. We need to keep our confidence that we WILL see His goodness and walk in the "land of the living" where no evil can again touch us or those we love. It's His promise. It's our hope. Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18). We desperately want to know God's will when we are walking through testings of our faith or need to make important decisions. This is His sure will for you in all things, whatever they may be. We are to give thanks. We are never to give up hope and faith in our loving Savior and what He is doing in our lives. We can give thanks that all is being worked out for good and we will see His goodness in the land of the living. The "land of the living" though it will one day be a place where we dwell, is even now a "place" where we dwell, though not physical. It is the place of being "in Christ" where the living dwell, and where we can abide in Him and His life always. If we do what we know to be His will, He will eventually lead us into further knowledge of His will as we keep on walking in faith and hope. Our very first obligation to obedience is to be thankful in all things. This is our first response - our first duty. What we consider circumstances to endure now, may later turn out to be an open door of blessing if we walk in faith trusting His hand. Back to Corrie Ten Boom, in part of her story, in The Hiding Place, when she was in a Nazi concentration camp and there was a terrible lice infestation Betsy was trying to tell her she needed to thank God for everything. Corrie said, "I can't thank Him for the lice." Later they learned it was because of the lice that the guards did not come into their building to molest them. Corrie learned a lesson in giving thanks in all things. We can trust our Heavenly Father with every single detail in our lives and should never think He has let up on His care of us or His love for us. If we continue to walk in faith and thanksgiving, we will see the goodness of the Lord.
His goodness is something I'm learning I don't want to miss! I don't want to miss it by my grumbling, or by my wanting of other things, or by my just failing to look for it. Every day we can see something of His goodness to us if we are looking.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26)
Let us, each day look for those new mercies, and the goodness of the Lord, and not fail to give thanks, as we wait upon the Lord.
Abba, open our eyes to see the goodness of the Lord and to help us to remember this hope always that we WILL see the goodness of the Lord, even as we are called to endure so much that is not good now. Let us never give up hope in your goodness. Help us to trust in Your goodness no matter what. Your goodness never changes, fades, or fails. It's always there. Praise You Lord!
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.