Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 23:6 KJV
I have read the story of Joseph hundreds of times, but recently, for the first time, this verse stuck out to me:
And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” Genesis 48:11 ESV
This time, I saw this portion of scripture from a completely different angle–from the “parent” angle.
As I get older, I have noticed my point-of-view is changing–like when our Pastor preached on the Prodigal Son and asked the congregation audience, “Which one of the characters of this story do you identify with?” (Luke 15:11-32) All my life, I have always identified with the older brother–not to brag but I was the best one in my family–said my four brothers–never! 🙂 But that Sunday morning, I identified with the Father. As a parent of four adult children, I now know what it feels like to grieve over choices made and the longing to embrace my children with all the love and compassion of a father–or mother.
Until that morning, I never pondered Joseph’s story from Jacob’s point-of-view. We know from scripture that Jacob took note when Joseph dreamed about the sun, moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. (Genesis 37:9-11) We then see Jacob’s inconsolable grief when the brothers, after selling Joseph, deceptively bring him the robe dipped in goat blood. (Genesis 37:31-35)
After all the trials, hardships, grief and questioning, Jacob admits–out loud even–that he never expected it to all end so well! As I read those words that morning, I felt the convicting power of the Holy Spirit expose my own disheartened expectations. For you see, just a few short months previous, I had suffered one of the biggest disappointments of my life. Some events turned out very different from what I had expected. (See Out Of Control) I was beginning to wonder if Shakespeare was right when he said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”
One doesn’t have to look very far to see that this attitude regarding expectations is pervasive in our culture. Try googling it!
As I read the verse, God revealed to me not only Jacob’s low expectations along with my own, but something else–something I personally have seen many times, God’s goodness and mercy! Jacob thought all hope was lost but now standing before him was his beloved son, Joseph AND his beautiful grandchildren! Joseph, himself had proclaimed God’s goodness and mercy when he declared that what his brothers had intended for harm, God intended for good and many lives were saved. (Genesis 50:20)
I look back on the darkest times of my life and EVERYTIME, there they were–Goodness and Mercy right behind me!
One of the times occurred a few months after my mother passed away. I drove to her home early one morning to prepare for the estate sale. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. Like a breached dam all my grief, fatigue, and stress poured out in uncontrollable sobs as I saw that every tree in her yard had been tee-peed.
Imagine something like this, only it had also rained. My friends who were helping with the estate sale would not be arriving for another hour, right before the doors were to open. Tears poured down my face as I attempted to do the impossible and clean the mess. Minutes later my despair was transformed to gladness when Goodness and Mercy, carrying a ladder approached me. I will never forget that feeling of relief I felt at that moment! In the 20 years my parents had lived at this address, I had never met this neighbor who assisted me until every last piece of toilet paper was put in the trash. To this day I don’t know from where he came.
As mentioned previously, I have been recovering from a very dark disappointment. But just a few short weeks ago, very unexpectedly–I should know better by now– I had another encounter with Goodness and Mercy. In an attempt to keep this brief I will just say I found myself on a plane to Israel with a group of amazing people from the Calvary Chapel in our town. They had been planning the trip for several months and just two weeks before the departure date I was invited to go. There is not enough time or space to thank God for His Goodness and Mercy in allowing me to go to Israel at this time in my life or of the amazing experiences of this trip. Hence the title “Israel Chronicles Part 1”. Stay tuned for Part 2! 🙂
When we are walking through life’s dark valleys, we do not need to fear or despair. The Lord gave me a word picture to remind me of this which I recreated in the featured photo. I see myself walking down a dark alley and notice I am being followed. The normal tendency would be to become fearful. But when I take a quick glance over my shoulder, I see it is my two bodyguards, Goodness and Mercy following me!
No matter what we experience, God is working out something good and merciful. David said, “Yea, 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.” (emphasis mine) (Psalm 23:4-6 KJV) I love how it says “all the days of my life”! We can expect God’s goodness and mercy right now, every day–not just when we get to heaven!
May we always have GREAT expectations as we put our hope in you! Not expectations that life’s events will turn out like we hoped or planned. But great expectations that whatever comes our way, even disappointments, you are working out your goodness and your mercy. Like David, may we say, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV) (emphasis mine) LH