Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pleasant places

Pleasant places. We want life to be full of them. But Psalm 23 talks both about green pastures and the valley of the shadow of death. Most of us would choose the first over the last.

It's easy to forget that the sun shines when we're in the middle of a rainy day. And when it's going great, we forget those overwhelmed by rain and floods. We just had a fine day in Seattle, but across the continent, people are experiencing tornadoes (Billings, MT), floods (Medicine Hat, AL), and oil sludge (SE USA).

I wonder how much of our indifference to those who suffer is because we expect life to be good. We are surprised when people die, when our children or parents get ill, or when we lose our homes and bank accounts. Yet few escape the consequences of humanity's selfish ambition, greed, and carelessness that unleash catastrophes of sickness, broken relationships, and poverty.

Sometimes I wonder how much of our casual dismissal of tragedy elsewhere in the world is a subconscious warding-off of the possibility that it could happen to us. War, famine, refugee hunger. With a phone call or stroke of a pen, a country can be committed to conflict and a nation's destiny turns from prosperity to conflict and desperation. A heated wind touches cool water, and a hurricane is born. The earth shifts, and homes and shops quake into scrap heaps.

We don't know when we will face trouble, but we know it is coming. Those of us who have made God our refuge live in the security that he will keep us safe in his care. If we die, he takes us to himself. He knows when our lives are done.

The most pleasant place of all? Resting in our Savior's love and protection, no matter what the circumstances.

Read more:
*LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:5-8 NIV

*Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. Psalm 68:19-20 NIV

*Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

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