I would have despaired…

I would have despaired…

Psalm 27 ends with the words, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

The Psalm begins with the words, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”

The in between words are good too, so take a moment to read the whole thing. I will focus on the bookends because I find that the end helps me understand the beginning.

As I read the words of David, I found myself asking how it is people become confident in the Lord? We all have those people in our lives whose faith we admire because it appears to be so solid. We they born that way? Is it a personality thing? Are there people who look at me and wonder how I got to a place of confident faith? (Because, truth be told…I don’t always live into the reality of David’s proclamation at the beginning. I DO fear, and I DO dread.)

Here’s what I am gleaning today:

First – David admits that he would have despaired without this one thing. He believed that he would see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” In my own words, he expected God’s divinity to converge with his daily life. He believed that God was more than a concept man has created, but in actuality the creator who renews His work in and through His creation every day that there is life. This is transformational belief. God’s reality in our lives is not something to be revealed when we die. It is available here and now. It is for those who dwell in the land of the living. Do we dare believe that we are living into an abundant reality that God has given to us in love?

Second – David prompts the reader to “let your heart take courage.” Sometimes we are our own obstacle to living into the belief mentioned above. Instead of letting our heart take courage, we let our heads tell us what is logical or we let our bodies tell us what will fill our cravings. Our heart may want to take courage, but we slip into “safer” stories where bravery is not demanded and wonder why we are miserable. As we walk in God’s plan for our lives, how can we let our hearts take courage in where he is leading? Can we trust the guide and step with confidence on the paths, even when they seem rough and unclear?

Third – David gives us an instruction. He tells us to “wait for the Lord.” This is hard. I hate to wait. But there is something in the waiting that shapes us. When I consider the spiritual maturity of David and others like him, I realize that these folks have practiced waiting on the Lord. They have wrestled with questions of direction. They have cried out to the Lord in honesty over prayers and dreams that seemed to go unanswered. They have experienced joy and sorrow. They have experienced poverty. They have seen their own sin and brokenness and repented. They have surrendered in such a way that allowed God to mold them into the kind of people who could proclaim with confidence, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear?” This kind of belief and confidence does not come from blind following, happy positivism, and religious brainwashing. This kind of belief comes from the hunger and the struggle and the waiting. I guarantee you that anyone you look up to spiritually has had to go through some tough shit.

Randy and I sat at our kitchen table this morning, hashing out some hard things. Towards the end of the conversation he said, “either we are walking in accordance with God in obedience, or we are being disobedient and need to change course.” The answer was – we ARE being obedient, but that doesn’t mean that life won’t be without struggle. We are in God’s sweet spot, even when the spot feels confining. We have been listening and seeking to follow Him through a challenging season. We are learning to “let our hearts take courage” and to “wait on the Lord.” So I deeply resonate with the words – “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Those words give me such hope.

In short – we cannot make ourselves become the kind of people that proclaim what David does in the opening of Psalm 27. What we CAN do is belief that God is good and live into that truth with every fiber of our being. I have included a link to a song that has become sacred to both Randy and I. It’s David’s psalm in a modern form by an artist named Matthew Perryman Jones. Grab a warm beverage and let it grace you in this moment. (It is accompanied by quotes from Van Gogh and his paintings.)


The lyrics read:

“Land of the Living”

Into the land of the living
Black bleeds orange into blue
I am coming to life,
Light is breaking through

I can hear the bells in the city
Across the ancient shore
I am ready to fight
Let down the scarlet cord

It’s time to shed this masquerade

You cannot love in moderation
Dancing with a dead man’s bones
Lay your soul
On the threshing floor

Between the walls of the river,
Shoulders bare the sacred stones
We made it alive
We are not alone

Kiss the ground
And change your name

You cannot love in moderation
You’re dancing with a dead man’s bones
Lay your soul
On the threshing floor

I heard the distant battle drum
The mockingbird spoke in tongues
Longing for the day to come
I set my face, forsook my fears
I saw the city through my tears
The darkness soon will disappear
And be swallowed by the sun

I am coming home
I am coming home
I am coming home
I am coming home…



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