You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5
There’s been a lot of pain in recent months, both in my life and in the lives of those around me. My last remaining and closest (non-believing) grandmother passed away this past summer, my father-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer and several close friends and other church members are caring for loved ones in advanced stages of cancer.
The Bible makes it clear that we will suffer this side of heaven (James 1 tells us that we will face “trials of many kinds”). But God provides two great resources to help us through the dark valleys of life: His near presence, and a certain hope.
His Near Presence: In the book of Daniel, we see that a Christ figure came to walk with Daniel’s friends in a fiery furnace, so that not a single hair on their head was burned. In the New Testament, Jesus states His desire to gather us to Himself “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13:34). God does not leave us alone as we endure the fires of life. He comes and embraces us and protects us (and ultimately rescues us at the cost of His own life). Don’t run away from Him; rather, hide in the shelter of His love through the fire. He is Immanuel, God with us, and He knows your sorrow better than anyone.
A Certain Hope: There is an image in Psalm 23 of a banquet during battle. David is running for his life from those trying to kill him, and yet he says that God prepares a table before him. Picture that, a banqueting feast of the most delectable foods even while enemies surround you. Our hope in Christ is that He has saved us for an eternal kingdom and all the sorrows of this world are temporary and passing away. Feel the pain, acknowledge your sorrow and weep (even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus), and yet, do not despair—God’s banqueting table is coming where joy and laughter will one day reign.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you many have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Let us treasure the banquet during battle by:
- Praying for those who are going through the fires of life to turn to God and find strength and comfort in His near presence.
- Asking God to help you recognise the fleeting nature of life to spur you to invest in people and matters of eternal significance, especially in light of the Bold Faith Campaign.