Two years ago, my wife and I packed up our lives in southwest Georgia and moved to Kansas City. As we met new friends, people would often ask, “What’s the one thing about the midwest that is most unlike the south?” Keeping thoughts of sugar in tea and a proper definition of “college football” to myself, I most readily answered: “There are four seasons here!” In South Georgia, unbeknownst to many, the forecast reads either “hot” or “…less hot.” But here, there is an actual fall and an actual spring – both of which I look forward to a great deal.
And I’m learning that, as it is with the seasons, so it is with life. As our second fall gives way to winter here, I’m keenly reminded that we treasure the fall and spring as reprieves from heat of summer and from winter’s bitter cold.
My years are few, but even still, I’ve sweated out a few summers and I know the sting of winter wind slapping across my face. It is impossible to quantify, or really even give any definition to, the suffering I’ve either witnessed or experienced myself. The ravaging effects of sin are painful and they are lasting.
I’ve faintly understood what Job knew well – that the Lord both gives and he takes away. And I’m finding his resolve in light of this reality most admirable. Nevertheless, “blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
It’s a refrain David echoes in the 103rd Psalm as he revels in the marvelous truth that God will not withhold what is good – nay, what is best – for us. More often than not, the ability to rightly frame our suffering is a matter of our forgetfulness over against our ability to remember the Lord and His goodness. The Psalmist writes: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” To aid in the train of thought here and to put it positively, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and remember all his benefits.”
What feels counterintuitive is the very thing the Psalmist preaches to himself. We go to God with His benefits in mind. There is no trepidation in coming to God on the basis of what He has to offer. He has offered himself freely and has welcomed us into communion with Him. In doing so, He has sufficiently wiped away the pervasive insecurity that would have us believe that approaching Him while denying His benefits is a surety of virtue. Perhaps it’s time we reclaim a bit of the boldness we had in coming to God in the first place. He stirred our hearts and we, unflinchingly, went to Him, having been made certain that only He could offer what we truly needed.
Believer, pursue God! Bless Him and remember all his benefits. Per the Psalmist in verses 3-5:
- Remember, the Lord forgives.
- Remember, the Lord heals.
- Remember, the Lord redeems.
- Remember, the Lord crowns.
- Remember, the Lord satisfies.
Forget not these things – the Lord and His benefits – and sooner, rather than later, God will put all to rights and we’ll find ourselves able to sing with Lewis and Beaver that old, familiar rhyme:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
Yes, indeed. We shall have spring again.