Links Daily Devotional

Eclipses

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. (Psalm 23:4, ESV)

The golf slump. It’s a terrible place when you’re in the midst of it, with personal forecasts showing no sure end in sight. The unceasing fight to find the cure is exhausting in itself. Sure, people tell you it’ll be over soon, give you plentiful advice, and say that surely it can’t last forever… but the gnawing feeling that nothing will work and that it will never end is hard to shake in those trying times.

There is worst agony when the sight of the goodness of God is eclipsed from our weary eyes. How long, O Lord? Just one moment without his countenance amplifies the pain of the golf slump, work slump, or relationship slump. Sometimes everything combines to play a harsh tune, rendering God’s beautiful melody barely audible through the loud song of pain.

PQ10.22.15In such a state, I find myself unable to even read the Bible rightly. I have stumbled many times at today’s verse, trying to find peace in this particular psalm which ought to bring comfort. However, I could not emotionally feel reassured by it. I would think, Why am I even walking in the valley of the shadow of death? And why would God’s rod and staff comfort me? I know I need discipline, but these beating sticks don’t really bring me peace. Such was the view of Psalm 23:4 from the lens of my spiritual slump and distrust.

By God’s grace, one day Psalm 23:4 became beautiful, a new skyline of joy opening in front of me. Comfort came. I saw that I need not fear evil, for “you are with me.” My Shepherd, the mighty warrior who saves, was there with his helpless sheep. The beating sticks turned out to be a rod to fight the wild animals away, and a staff to guide and rescue me, keeping me close to him. And that is what they had been all along.

How many other places in his Word do I put a disguise of unkindness on God? I wonder. Behind the Darth Vader mask of my making, does the unfathomably lovely face of the true and living God smile? Oh, for the delight of unmasking him truly and finding that he exults over us with joy!

Unfortunately, there are times when it looks as if divine goodness has been hidden from life and soul, nowhere to be found in looking about. The moon was striking one recent morning, fully lit in the sky, a stark contrast from the dark orb with reddish hue of the previous evening’s lunar eclipse. Of course, it is earthly matter, standing between the sun and the moon, which obscures the beaming rays. The sun always faithfully and radiantly shines, never withholding its glory. Our comfort is not that it doesn’t get dark, for we all walk valley pathways. Our comfort instead lies in this: eclipses never mean the sun is out of place, out of shine, or out of heat.

In an even more glorious way, God’s altruistic goodness never ceases to his people (Psalm 24:6). Even through eclipses, he is working out his good purposes with mercy. We can trust his lovingkindness to stay the course and remove the dark shading. In the eclipse as well as in the light of day, his goodness is found in his Word and through his people. When it gets dark, let us run to him through these gifts; he who loves us will not leave us in the shade forever. The slump will end soon, the Shepherd is with you.

Isabelle Beisiegel
October 22, 2015
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.