What a bold statement; made by a person fully assured that no matter what happens in his life, goodness and mercy are inevitable. It is an easy confession when things are going well, but how many of us subscribe to this declaration in times of gloom and despair? What is our reaction after losing a job, or realizing we don’t have enough money to pay our bills? Life’s trials often test our capability of trusting that we are in Christ’s care. It is in those times that we look to His track record in managing our lives and navigating us through tough times.
Often, we don’t know how God is working or what He is doing. Our finite minds can’t comprehend or even see past the present moment; we allow fear, doubt and unbelief to creep in. We take matters into our own hands and make things worse. Thank God, He never gives up on us. The only explanation is His steadfast love. Like the care the shepherd shows toward his sheep, one who is in the Good Shepherd’s charge may have confidence that regardless of the dilemma, and even the flock’s wayward behavior, He will cause all things to work out for our good. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Ancient literature refers to sheep as “those of golden hooves” because they were highly esteemed for their beneficial effect on the land they grazed. In layman’s terms, “goodness and mercy” followed them. Not only did the flock benefit from the care of the shepherd, but the land benefited because the sheep had been there. The question now comes to each of us. Do I leave the blessing behind me? Is there a trail of sadness or gladness? Peace or discord?
Christ went about doing good in His earthly ministry. His righteous acts were also mingled with acts of mercy. He was compassionate and tender, even with the most flagrant sinners. Keller writes, “The only real practical measure of my appreciation for the goodness and mercy of God to me is the extent to which I am, in turn, prepared to show goodness and mercy to others.”
Not only should the believer expect goodness and mercy, we should give it.
Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1970, 2007.