A few years back a new building was built in my town. Before it was officially opened I was invited to come in and pray over it. It was a sad day.
The building was the office of the county coroner. There was nothing wrong with the building. It was very new and clean and seemed to be well built. But it was a sad day because every room I walked in existed for one purpose.
I knew that it was just a matter of days, maybe hours, until lifeless bodies would lie in the examining room while grieving family members tried their best to handle the pain.
The last room I visited was designed specifically for those who were grieving. There was a window for family and friends of the deceased to look through, apparently to identify their loved one. On the wall just below that window, about waist high, there was a bar. One of those bars you see on the side of the stall in a handicapped restroom. Of all the things I saw that day, this is what has stayed with me.
I grabbed it and thought about the hundreds and hundreds of hands that would cling to that bar as their eyes looked through the window and their knees grew weak. For many, this bar would be their only hope.
But not for Christians.
The bar we have to cling to does not come and go with new buildings. It is constant. It has always existed, even before us. And if we find ourselves on either side of that window, it will still be there. That bar is the goodness of God.
You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. Psalm 119:68-70 (ESV)
We don’t know all of the details surrounding this Psalm. We just know that the author was not immune to suffering. He knew what it was like to have his reputation smeared and to be haunted by wickedness. But through it all he remained in God’s word. And it was there that he found something to grasp. The goodness of God.
God’s goodness is not dependent upon our assessment of the goodness of a particular situation. Rather, it is only through his goodness that we are able to see any goodness at all.
It is good for me that I was afflicted that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:71-72 (ESV)
Christians are not immune to the sting of death. Not yet. Our knees still get weak and our eyes still fill with tears.
But we have been given something to cling to during those times. We have a Good Shepherd who calls us to come to him, laying our burdens down and finding rest for our weary souls.
Jesus promises that one day that building will not exist. My friend will be out of a job. Neither one of us can wait for that day.
But until then, we all cling to the Good Shepherd who conquered death for us.