I could not figure out why my mother was calling me. She knew I was in a seminary class. It was my last class, actually, before I graduated, and it was a week-long, all-day affair. I was tired and grouchy, so I ignored the multiple rings and decided I would have to call her on my next break. Then I got a text from Krista that said I needed to call my mom right away. My dad had slipped into a coma and was in critical condition in a hospital in Knoxville, TN. It was during this dark day and the many that followed that Psalm 84:11 became a strange comfort to my soul.
I may have read this passage before, but I recalled it mostly from the biography of George Mueller. Mueller was the director of a Christian orphanage in Bristol, England in the 19th century. He helped to care for over 10,00 orphans in his lifetime, and all without asking for a single donation. He prayed and God mercifully delighted to answer His prayers. His is an incredible story of faith and power. But, Mueller was not without sorrow and heartbreak. The chapter I most remember discusses the illness and death of his first wife. When he preached her funeral – no small thing in and of itself – he preached from this text: Psalm 84:11. The text reads:
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
It’s a strange funeral text, but Mueller found comfort in it. He said that if God does not hold anything good from His children, then, it must be good for him that his wife died. What a hard thing to believe, I thought as I read the pages of his story. How could someone say such a thing within the dark hours of the soul? I marveled at Mueller’s faith and that Psalm and his use of it, stuck with me for many years.
The day I found out my father was dying I recall weeping uncontrollable in an empty room at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I cried out to God and pleaded for Him to spare my dad’s life. He chose not to. I remember thumbing through the pages of Scripture looking for any comfort, when the Spirit of God brought this passage back to my mind. It was surprisingly comforting. I didn’t find it strange anymore. I found comfort in knowing that God did what was best, and that even though I could not understand, and might disagree, I could trust Him.
The Psalmist reminds us of the character of God. God is good. He is a sun, bestowing warmth and helping us to grow, and He is a shield, protecting us from ill. He bestows favor and honor, and if it is good for us to have something, then he gives it to us. He refuses to withhold what is good from His children. God can be trusted, even with heartache, even when we don’t understand.
This text has been a powerful balm to my soul. These many years later when heartache still feels fresh, still hurts, I remind myself that God has done what is good for me, even if it doesn’t feel good. God can be trusted. Psalm 84:11 has been a great encouragement and hope to me in life. I pray it will be an encouragement to you too.