There are rare days when I’m worn out, not just at the end of the day, but at the beginning of the next day also. It happens when there is something on my mind from previous days that is still there and remains there, seemingly inerasable. Sometimes it’s a lingering illness of my own or of someone else I care about. There are times like this when people go through a painful experience such as a divorce, or loss of job, or the death of someone we care deeply about. We feel drained and exhausted; we don’t want to face the days ahead. It can turn into a lingering depression or at least a few days of discouragement. But the 23rd Psalm begins to put things in perspective and offers hope. It is a prayer in which we figuratively wrestle with God. The psalm begins, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want for anything. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul . . .” The psalm continues to put things in perspective. It doesn’t solve our problems, but it directs us to trust in God for help and concludes with the promise of hope, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. The “house” is heaven, with the Lord who heals all things. But we get a taste of heaven here and now, as well as the full reality hereafter.
Heaven on earth now is not a life without troubles. Nor is heaven now a matter of living each day with our head in the clouds, pretending that all is well when it isn’t. But neither does God, who came down to earth in Jesus, speak of peace just when we die. Jesus brings peace on earth to those who love and trust in him. This is not to say all things become wonderful for us in this life. But Jesus does promise us peace inwardly even while we live with our troubles. Psalm 116 can be prayed when we have experienced the peace God gives us in our times of trouble. Keep it in mind when trouble comes. It begins, “I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. And further on, in this same Psalm, the response of our peace found through our faith concludes, “Return o my soul , to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”