By David Faust
If you are living on fast forward and need to press pause, I recommend reading Psalm 23. This famous chapter isn’t just for funerals; it provides practical guidance for anyone who needs to lie down in green pastures and stroll “beside quiet waters” (v. 2).
My favorite part of Psalm 23 is the last verse: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v. 6). I’m especially fond of that last word: “forever.”
Something inside all of us longs for forever. God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Yet forever things are hard to find. You can buy a car called an Infiniti, but 30 years from now it will be in the junkyard. Your house isn’t a forever thing. A castle might last 1,000 years, but its occupants change every generation. Careers aren’t forever things, nor are our physical bodies. Thankfully our troubles aren’t forever either. We experience grief and trials, but only “for a little while” in comparison with eternity (1 Peter 1:6).
Death blocks the way to forever. Whether it lasts 100 days or 100 years, life is short. The very idea of forever is mind-boggling, faith-stretching, paradigm-expanding. The U.S. is 240 years old, which in the big picture is a small percentage of human history. What will our nation be like 240 years from now in 2256? What about 1,000 years from now in 3016? Telescopes reveal the vastness of the universe, but no one can actually see forever. Mathematicians talk about infinite numbers and philosophers speak of eternity future, but our minds struggle to grasp the concept of forever.
John Newton tried to describe forever in the song “Amazing Grace”:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.”
It would help if someone from the realm of forever could visit us in the here-and-now. It would help if the eternal God would intercept the unrelenting pattern of life and death that makes human existence resemble a never-ending funeral procession. It would help if . . . someone would rise from the dead.
Jesus’ resurrection has an evidential purpose. It affirms his claims and establishes his credentials as Savior and Lord. “Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21).
But the resurrection is more than a fact of history; it provides hope and assurance in the present. When we walk through the darkest valley, we can “fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4) because Christ is alive to walk through it with us. God’s power dwelling in us daily “is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19, 20). And the risen Lord is preparing for us a place where death, mourning, crying, and pain will pass away (Revelation 21:4).
All of this is possible because the eternal God stepped into a world sloping steadily toward the grave, and he pressed pause. The Son of God burst forth from the tomb alive and well, and he changed things—forever.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|March 21||M.||Deuteronomy 6:1-9||Commandment Living|
|March 22||T.||1 Samuel 12:19-24||Fear and Serve the Lord|
|March 23||W.||Psalm 23||Faithful and Fearless|
|March 24||T.||Romans 1:1-7||Grace-filled Living|
|March 25||F.||1 Peter 1:21-25||Living Again|
|March 26||S.||1 Peter 3:14b-22||Resurrection Living|
|March 27||S.||Mark 16:1-8||Basis for Faith|