What do you really believe about God? How does your belief affect your life? Do you believe that God is truly good? That He has a plan for your life? A purpose for your pain? I know that I have trouble with that when I am in the midst of the pain, but I propose that it is essential to finding joy, and perhaps to surviving the tragedies in our lives.
The Psalmist David was a good example of someone whose faith did not change with his circumstances. Psalm 16:11 is the last verse of Psalm 16, and concludes this prophetic psalm with hope and joy. Throughout it David acknowledges that God is his only source of well-being, the only One he can fully trust. He vows to not give in to the ways of the people around him who are not trusting in the Lord, but will make his decisions based on God's faithfulness and what pleases Him. He knows that God will provide the stability and prosperity he needs, and he will give praises to God for his guidance. Interestingly in Psalm 16:7 David explains that this guidance from God comes through his own reflection and learning. David has the assurance that His trust in the Lord will protect him, will keep him happy and safe. This is his reason for rejoicing. It certainly wasn’t because the circumstances he was in were easy or safe. He was very likely running for his life at this point. Some scholars believe that this type of psalm, a mikhtam, was used in the context of prayer motivated by danger. Certainly David had his fair share of trials in life, enough that we can be sure that his rejoicing was based on his trust in God and not on his circumstances. Psalm 16:10 shows us that David knew that even death could not separate him from God. (Romans 8:38-39) This brings us to the conclusion in Psalm 16:11 that God would for David, as He will for us, lead us in the path of life, so that we too can experience joy in His presence.
We can have the same assurance that David had, and that the Lord Jesus had. There is a parallel between what David says in this psalm and the experience of Christ in His death and resurrection. (Acts 2:31-33) Jesus was the first to travel the path from death to life, but He has promised every believer that because He lives, we too will live. (John 14:19)
So how does this affect your life? Jan Winebrenner, author of “Life in the Midst of Mess” discusses our options: “Will we seek God and take our refuge in Him when our path is littered with broken dreams? Or will we turn elsewhere? We have only these two options when catastrophe strikes. If we choose God, then catastrophe becomes for us a special grace-gift, ushering us into the place where we can experience God in ways we never before imagined. We find ourselves poised on the brink of life’s greatest discovery: that God is the ultimate presence in the universe, and that knowing Him, interacting with Him, by faith, is more satisfying, more exhilarating than anything the human heart ever hoped for or imagined.” Like David we can experience the sheer delight that God provides--always, despite our circumstances.