I tried going to Psalm 23 for comfort and hope in the midst of my father’s suffering from cancer, just weeks before his death. Those familiar words that have brought comfort to so many rang hollow to my grieving heart . . .
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. . .
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me . . .
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . .
Those promises seemed to mock. Peace was elusive. God seemed distant . . . far away . . . uncaring.
One morning as I tried turning to Psalm 23 to read those promises over my father while he was in hospice care, my Bible opened to Psalm 22 instead . . .
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
The psalmist’s cries were the same cries of my heart for my own father.
But then as I kept reading, I knew those ancient words weren’t about our suffering, but a prophecy of what our Messiah would endure . . . for us.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and
despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
They have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
Suddenly my heart was no longer questioning and groaning for my father, but bowed at the foot of the cross as He bled and died for me. Tears were in my father’s eyes and mine as I finished reading Psalm 22 aloud over us . . . and then I finished by reading Psalm 23, which crescendos to. . .
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
And, just one week later, my beloved father entered Glory.
After his death, it dawned on me . . .
Psalm 22 are the groans of Good Friday
while Psalm 23 are the promises of Easter.
Friends, no matter what you are going through right now, I encourage you to read Psalm 22 through Psalm 23. Dwell on what Jesus endured for us. That is the only reason we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” May this song by Shane & Shane on Psalm 23 whisper hope into your story.
And revisit my post While They Were Sleeping about what Jesus went through the night before His death.
Photo cred: Emre Gencer on Unsplash