When Singing of God’s Kindness is Hard
A few years ago I would have rolled my eyes at a Psalm like today’s. Wading through deep bouts of chronic depression and anxiety, I could not sing of the goodness and kindness of a God who (in my eyes) was not acting out such virtues. The tragedies, grief, and mental illness of my late teens and early twenties validly clouded my vision.
If God did not stop these terrible things, these terrible thought patterns in my life, how could He claim kindness and a desire for my goodness? I wanted a helicopter parent as a God; establishing their faithfulness by stopping any negative thing from happening in my life.
Instead, we have a God who, much like Aslan of Narnia, is Good, but isn’t safe. He is kind but there is no promise of a life without suffering. As Paul tells us in the second reading, we are baptized into Jesus’ death as well as his life. Our God always has our welfare at heart, full of creative plans, justice, mercy, and resurrection. And He gave us free will, leaving lots of room in each of our stories for wonderful things and also horrible things. God moves through, around, and in spite of many of these things, but He does not control them.
It has taken me a lot of work to appreciate Psalms singing of the joy and goodness of God. There are certainly still days where I find it hard. I have come to see God’s kind hand most clearly through other people. In the seasons of life where I cannot see or feel or trust in God, He sends me His love through family or community. It is so much easier for me to listen to my sister, or a mentor; to see the joy He is doing in a friend’s life and begin to wonder again if He is doing the same for me. It reminds of the woman welcoming Elisha. I am welcomed and given provisions for the days of doubt by those around me with warm homes and full spiritual pantries.