I do not want to do this. I do not want to write this. Today is a day where it has taken me 3 hours to muster up the mental energy to get out of bed. Today is a black cloud day, a black dog day. A day where every thought is a treacherous one and my feet are on sinking sand. The walk home seems a distant memory when all I want to do is hide from the world and these twisted lies. These dark days are real in my life and probably, if not in yours, then in the life of someone you love. Thinking about it, it must be harder to watch someone you love in these times. It must be hard to see all the love you have get absorbed into a black cloud and seemingly nothing breaking through.
So why am I here at this computer screen?
I am convinced, on my better days, that there is something in these Psalms. That these songs are here for us on the journey home. But I have no idea what to do with this Psalm. This exuberant praise Psalm. This Psalm full of conviction and wonder, full of overflowing thanks, praise and that hardest of things to summon up from the depths of my mind. Joy.
There is truth here I am sure. We start with a call to joy, a call to praise, a call to thanksgiving. Why? What possible reason can there be for joy on days that get even darker than this one?
The Psalmist calls us to know that the Lord is God. We have a God, there is someone who is in this world, who made us. This God doesn’t seem to be a far off distant dictator. He’s a God who knows his people. We are his and we belong to him. We are his. In the Toy Story films the stupid scenes that always makes me cry a bit are the ones when Woody cries out to the rest of the toys to come back to their senses and remember who they belong to – they belong to Andy. His name is written at the bottom of their shoes. His name is engraved on them. They belong to him. We belong to someone and in the midst of this dark world which sometimes leaves me paralysed in fear and worry that is a really good thing to know. There is a God and we belong to him.
The image we are given to help us get our heads around this is of sheep and pasture, an image of care and concern. We are given a shepherd who knows his sheep cares for them and protects them. Sheep are pretty stupid and yet the shepherd knows where they are and provides for them. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. We belong to God and he will look after us.
We’re also told that this God is good, that his love endures and his faithfulness continues. This is a God who doesn’t give up on us. His love is enduring, beyond any human love or loyalty, his faithfulness is the stuff that continues through all generations. My faithfulness and love are so small and tiny, like a puddle they run out and dry up. His love is like a torrential waterfall, an overflowing rushing river, a pounding ocean. He is faithful. He is good. His love does not run out, grow weary, fade away, disappear or die. His love endures.
Today, like everyday, that is my only hope. Him. My shepherd who knows these dark moods, my shepherd whose name is printed on me, my shepherd who will not give up on me.
I stand out in the rain, in the cold, in the windswept dark plain and lift up my hands. I need him. I am thankful. I am loved.
Even if I can’t believe these things today I will know that this Psalmist did and others do and I will share their belief. I will not worry whether I have the strength to muster up belief today. I am in bigger hands that love me whatever. I am in the hands of enduring patient love.
To ponder:What hope is found in the character of our God? Who can you comfort by letting them know that you are believing these things for them today?
Reflect:“I was lost but Jesus found me, Found the sheep that went astray. Threw his loving arms around me Drew me back into his way. Days of darkness still come o’er me Sorrows path I oft may tread But the Saviour still is with me By his hand I’m safely led.”