Hope and Despair in a Single Sentence Written Thousands of Years Ago

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the living.

David, King of Israel (Psalms 27: 13)

One sentence. Reverberating poignancy.

I encountered this verse when I was an in patient in a psych ward after going to the ER with thoughts (and sad as it is to say, plans) of suicide.

That’s not actually completely true. I had encountered this verse many times over the course of my life, but I had never actually shared a cup of coffee with this verse like I would an old friend on a crisp morning.

I woke up for the first time in years.

For longer than I could remember, I would tell people that I sleep just fine and, in all reality, I completely believed that I did. There was something so strange, though, about closing my eyes in a world in which my life was paused and then falling asleep. When I finally woke up, something was different.

I slept.

Sliding out from under the blanket I was given the day before when I was taken to the psych ward, I grabbed my bible to spend some time with Jesus. This is something that I do more often than not. It is not something I do out of duty or a desire to be spiritual or religious. I do it as a way of connecting with the deepest love my essence has ever known.

I hoped.

Hopelessness and despair had gripped my life for a long time. I felt as though I was caught in parallax, constantly drowning but never dying. Everything in my life seemed to be taking from me and I had no more me to give. When I woke up in that ward, my head clear, my heart at peace for the first time in years, I knew something was different.

No more despair!

I couldn’t move my eyes past this verse. I felt as though I was reading words in a book that were explaining my own heart to me in that moment. I was full of despair and now I was full of hope. This sense of evaporated despair had to come from something. Sleep helped a lot, but it only allowed me to clearly connect with the truth.

I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I had not committed suicide. I was alive. Fully alive! And in this sentence from thousands of years ago I am coming to believe that in this life I will truly see the goodness of the Lord.

The Goodness of the Lord.

In this life.

3 thoughts on “Hope and Despair in a Single Sentence Written Thousands of Years Ago”

  1. This makes me so sad, to know how despairing you felt and so joyous, to know how the Lord met your need in the middle of it! I love you Michael!

    1. Thanks! That sweet, tender, warmth that seems to saturate and reverberate through my life now still holds a twinge of sadness when I remember where this chapter of my life started. It’s been almost a year now since I was in the hospital. About a year ago now is when it really started getting bad. Looking back at all of that, though, and seeing where I’ve come to rest through it, I wouldn’t choose to avoid or rewrite any of it.

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