“I have some bad news”.
I have come to loathe those words. It’s not so much the actual bad news that I disdain as much as the infinitesimal pause before the bomb drops. In that second, which seems to last a millennium, my mind races to predict what darkness—once hidden in the unknown—will now be birthed into light.
This time the “bad news” was about our hopes of being able to feel a little more settled. My wife and I had been given great hope that we would be able to look for a house and live in something we could call “ours” for less money than we are currently throwing away in our tiny apartment.
As it now appears that hope is to be dashed. Now we are living on the somber side of Proverbs 13:12. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. Yes, it does. It’s not merely the un-desirableness of continuing to feel unsettled that has our hearts sick. It’s also that we are afraid of what more lives in the darkness of an unknown future. What else will emerge from the shadows?
In moments of great turmoil I am afraid that what will emerge are more hellish messengers, casting upon me words of shame. “What kind of man are you? You’re thirty years old, and you aren’t providing for your family the way you should!”
These fiends turn my eyes towards only the happiness of those dancing with our dream. I only see their smiles as they build another mansion on the outskirts of Eden. And for a moment my eyes are blinded to the emptiness of living for life outside the Garden. And in my foolishness I long to set up a tent in their midst.
Then grace breaks through.
I remember Psalm 84:11, “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly”. I am reminded that the only way that this promise is mine is through the faithfulness and uprightness of Jesus. But I know that I am assuredly “hidden in Christ”. So, I know that through Jesus this is true of me. My loving Father, will withhold no good thing.
What does that mean for our “bad news”? Simply, that this dream will be reality when it is actually a good thing. Even though I believe now that a house would be a good thing, I also know that the sovereign Lord of the universe sees all and knows all. If this is being “withheld” from us then it must not at this present moment be a good thing. When it is good it will be ours to enjoy.
It must be noted that by “good” I know (from Romans 8) that ultimately what is “good” is conformity to Christ. Therefore, at this present moment having a house would not bring us into greater conformity to Christ. I do not know what that reason is, but I do know that God is good and will not allow us to settle for lesser joys.
Lord, forgive me for moments of infidelity when I rail against your sovereign goodness. You are the King, I am not. I know that you are good and that you withhold no good thing from your children. I know that you are a loving and merciful Father that will not give his children a stone when we ask for bread. I also know that you are radically committed to my joy. And I know that you are the fountain of life and in your light do we see light. You rescue me from drinking putrid waters outside Eden and will not be satisfied until I “drink from the river of your delights”. Thank you for being more dedicated to our joy than I am. I would settle for a temporary pleasure—whereas you, stir up my heart to long for the eternal. You are good.