suffering

Stop Judging! We Were Never Designed to Live Here

The pain of living in a world we were not designed to live in can be unbearable. In this short video, Frank encourages us with the truth that there is hope when death is all around us because with God it is never the end of the story.

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Stop Judging! We Were Never Designed to Live Here.

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Come with me to Lamentations chapter 3, and let’s walk through it together. Jeremiah says, “I'm the man who has seen affliction. I've seen the rod of His wrath. He's led me into darkness and not into light. His hand is against me all day. He is building walls around me.” Have you ever felt like you have walls around you, and you can't escape, they’re closing in?

He continues, “He’s caused my flesh to rot. He's broken my bones. He's besieged me with bitterness. I dwell in dark places.” Have you ever been in the darkness so bad that you can't see the light?

“He's made my chains heavy.” Have you ever been in a situation where you’re carrying a load that you just can't get off your shoulders?

“He shuts out my prayer; He doesn't listen. He's not hearing me. I feel like He's a bear lying in wait like He's a lion waiting to ambush me. He's drawing the Arrow of His quiver, and I'm the bullseye. He's made me a laughing stock. He's broken my teeth.” Oh, I've been there, haven't you? Where the wilderness is so big and so strong that it looks like you're never going to make it through. Life is so intense that you're grinding your teeth, and you're not even aware that you’re doing it, but you can't seem to stop. You go to the dentist and end up with a mouth a guard because you know - you are not going to be able to stop the grinding.

We have got to understand this friend, we don't judge that as Christians! That person who's experiencing that is living in a world they weren't designed to live in so stop the judging! Let them be human! They weren't designed to live here!

Let’s read a little further in Lamentations, Jeremiah’s cowering in the darkness and says “I have no peace. I've forgotten happiness. My strength is gone.” He’s saying he has fear, he has no peace, he has no joy, and he has no strength! Are you there loved one? Well here’s the key to it all right here in verses 19 and 20; “Remembering my affliction,” (and just to make sure we get it he says it again,) “Surely my soul remembers, His eyes are on the rubble of Jerusalem, His eyes are on those murdered little babies, His eyes are on those weeping violated women, His eyes are on the ashes of what was once the glory of Israel.”

And in the midst of Jeremiah’s anguish, the spirit of God helps him and look what he is able to say, “This I recall to my mind, the Lord’s lovingkindness never ceases; His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. For this reason, I have hope.” He’s gone vertical! Oh, beloved, there is HOPE when death is all around you because it is NOT the end of the story. Jeremiah begins to recall to his mind all that God is, and all that God has done, and he ends up with hope, and a man cannot live without hope, he must have the belief that things are going to change.


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Video Blog: What Every Hurting Person Needs to Know

We face many adversities in this life, and in those dark times, we can feel so alone. May Frank’s words in this short video fill you with hope. Remember - our God always holds on to us!

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Never Alone

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The worst test I ever went through was when Avery was born, and she fought for life for three and a half months. When we finally got her home, she went right back into ICU and fought for another couple of months until they finally found out what was wrong. They were able to treat it but it depleted things in her body, and some of the meds they were giving her had to be replaced. They gave me her medicine at 6:00 PM on Tuesday night. We were bringing her home the next day. Finally, she was coming home! I gave her the medicine, and instantly she was nauseousness and crying; something was wrong. I complained three times to the nurse saying, "Something’s wrong, something's wrong, something wrong!” They said, “Oh no, everything's fine just the way it's written.” But we knew something was wrong. They said they would give her the next dose and if anything was wrong, they would call us.

We drove home, and I'll never forget my bride; her head hit the pillow, and she said, “I've got a really bad feeling.” It had been a gruesome couple of months it was just raw emotion. We fell asleep.

We woke up an hour later with a call from the hospital. “Mr. Friedmann, get here as fast as you can.” There was no time to talk as they quickly informed us that we might not make it in time. As we're driving, I'll never forget, Janet reached her hand over to mine, and she said, “Is this all the time we get?”

We walk in, and Avery's out, her heart has stopped, and they’re working on her. The doctor came in, and he said, “What's wrong?” I said, “The medicine you gave her, that’s what's wrong!” 

He came back twenty minutes later and let me tell you again, to his credit, this was a man. He walked up to me and said, “It's my fault. I was in a hurry, and I miscalculated the dose, and I gave her five times what she was supposed to have.”

You’ve got to understand that at that moment, everything in me wanted to take this guy and put his head through the wall. But... “No test has overtaken you. Every test is common to man. It is showing that you're not up to the demand, but there's Someone who is. Lay hold of that Someone, and you will overcome.” 

Trusting Jesus, I reached out, and I grabbed that man, and I said, “I love you. I forgive you. Forget about us and go do whatever you need to do to make her better.”

She was out for twenty-two minutes in a coma. Five days later she woke up. And this summer, this child, is going to go work in the burn ward in South Africa at the Red Cross hospital and add more gray hair to my head and for that too, He is sufficient. 

I don't know what you're going through, but I know the world we live in, and that means you're either going through it, coming out of going through it, or you're going into it. But you don't have to go into it alone, and that is such good news because you're not up to the demand, but there's Someone who is, and all it takes is faith to say, "Lord, I'm not up to the demand, I need you." And He's there. Isn’t that wonderful friends?!

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The One Who Brings Us Through This World

We live in a very dark world, and perhaps you’re hurting today. May Frank’s words in this short video remind you that there is One who can bring you through this world victoriously and He is reliable, and He is trustworthy. Will you put your hand in God’s and journey with Him today?

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Father Sees and Understands Your Struggle!

Can any comfort be found as we face unthinkable circumstances we never dreamed we would face? How do we survive the pain and sorrow of a world that we were never designed to live in? In this video, Frank invites us into the truth that we are not alone and that there is One who understands our grief and pain and will walk with us through it.

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Suicide as a Counterfeit Gospel.

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Suicide is the counterfeit gospel: Die! Kill yourself and you will be free!

The true Gospel is "Die and you will be free". This refers of course to how we have been crucified and resurrected with Jesus.

Satan's message is similar, but destructive - and must be rejected. Further, know that those thoughts DO NOT COME FROM YOU! I Corinthians 2:16 says we have the mind of Christ".

The mind of Christ does not say 'kill yourself'. Those thoughts are the enemy's, put into your mind to destroy you. 

Sadness is understandable. Jesus was described as a man of sorrows... this is a sad world! It is ok to be sad, but as we look to Christ in the midst of our sadness, we will discover Joy that operates AT THE SAME TIME as our sorrow.  Christians are the only ones in the world who can have tears of sorrow streaming down their cheeks while singing praise with joy at the same time.

When we fix our eyes on our sorrow, we stay focused on the horizontal. Don't do that. Rather, go vertical: fix your eyes on Father, and discover how well He meets you in your sorrow with His peace and joy.

I know this from personal experience.

You are loved,

Frank.

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Only Goodness and Mercy Have Followed Me

As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him.

As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him.

Psalm 23.

Everyone knows this beloved psalm. He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death. He is my shepherd.

Interesting insight: Remember, David wrote this as an old man. As he reflects on his life and the faithfulness of God to him, he closes the psalm with these words--- "surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life."

Why did I highlight the word "surely"?

Because it can also be translated "only". As David looks over his life, he sees that "only" goodness and mercy have followed him. What does that mean? That even the pain and sorrow and tears have led to and been overwhelmed by the goodness and mercy of God.

Wow. I think of Rev 7:17 and 21:4 - He shall wipe away every tear and THERE SHALL BE NO MORE PAIN.

May this be the reality for all his saints who journey through this valley of the shadow of death, which is life in a fallen world.

May you see the goodness and mercy in your life so fully that you no longer see the pain and sorrow....

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In response to the Sutherland Springs, Texas mass shooting.

In today's post, I'm tackling a very difficult and painful topic. I'm responding to the mass shooting that happened at a Sunday morning church service in Texas this past weekend in which 26 people were killed - ages 17 months to 77 years.

This is one of the lengthiest posts I've ever written - but it is necessary, in order to address this in the fullest possible manner.

- Frank


Oh my goodness, ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING! And this time it was a church! WHY? That is the haunting question – why is this happening?

Immediately upon the voice leaving the lips with that haunting question, there are those who will herald loudly that it is God’s discipline or judgment on America! They cry out that God has removed His protective hand from a nation that has turned its back on Him. Oh, my friends, why does God always get the blame when something bad happens?

The Scriptures are full of declarations of how good and loving God is, in both the Old and the New Testaments, so why the rush to pin all the bad things on a good, good God?

On the other side of the equation are those who are so quick to defend the reputation of God that they herald just as loudly that God had nothing to do with it, it is just the result of living in a fallen world that is replete with evil and sinful men. We need to remember that God has in his great love, not created robots. He created men with a free choice, and given men the right to exercise that choice, and some men, under the influence of the enemy and their own sinful natures, make very bad choices to hurt other people.

Let’s add some more to this supposition. Could we not also add that this rise in crime and evil is the fruit of a society and culture that abandoned God in the 1960’s? In that decade of “liberation” – we not only removed prayer from schools, we also removed the teaching of Christian ethics and even the concept of the existence of God. Evolution became the standard teaching, wherein man has simply evolved to become the supreme animal, and so he is simply doing today as he has been taught. He is nothing more than a primal animal that has evolved to the top of the food chain, but without a moral compass he is free to do whatever his sinful heart desires to do, and he is choosing to be very, very wicked.

My friends, we need to be biblically honest when confronted with these horrible realities of life. God is good, yes He is. He is so absolutely good, that there is no evil that dwells in Him at all, so says the book of James and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

So let’s get this straight from the beginning, He did NOT cause these recent mass shootings! These horrors were the fruit of the choice of sinful men with evil as their source. On the other hand, let’s remember that God is also omnipotent, so powerful that nothing is impossible with God! This confronts us with a harsh reality:

Though God had NOTHING to do with causing these wicked men from exercising their evil choices, He could certainly have intervened and stopped them in an instant, should He have chosen to do so.

We need to remember this biblical fact and stop trying to defend the reputation of God in these matters, because the truth is God does not even defend His own reputation. Have you ever read Exodus 4:4? There God tells us that He makes the deaf and the dumb, and does not even clarify why He would do such thing! How can that be?

As a parent of two children with special needs, I have repeatedly asked "How can a good God do such a thing and even admit that He does it?" 

Please note my friend, that even in the context of heralding that reality, God offers no explanation at all as to why He would say and do that! And how about Job, poor old Job. Remember all the calamities that God allowed into His life? And in the book of Job, it is made clear that God did indeed allow all those things to happen from the hand of the enemy unleashed on Job.

Yet, when Job finally questioned God, all God did was ask His own questions of Job… “Were you there when I hung the stars in the sky and named them? Were you there when I hung the earth in a balance?” Job, overcome by the sheer greatness of God as revealed in these questions, repented of his questioning of God. He can only muster up what really is the only answer we really have to such questions as to why such evil things happen…. Job says, “I used to say I knew you, but now my eyes really see!” I believe Job is saying, “God, I knew you were big before, but now I am beginning to see how really BIG you are!”

And therein lies our answer to why these horrible, horrible realities of life are occurring. We know that it is men exercising their free will to choose to do evil, and we also know that God is allowing such men to exercise their free will.

So why is He allowing this to occur? WE DO NOT KNOW! God is sooooooooooo VERY BIG AND WISE AND GOOD that we in our puny minds are unable to harmonize all that we see with our eyes, with all that we know about God as revealed in the Bible and in the cross of Jesus.

This is where faith comes in. Faith is defined in Hebrews as the “substance of things not yet seen.” We believe, but we do not see. Hmmmmmm….. and what is it that we believe? We believe as we have been told in the Scriptures that God is good, and God is loving, and God is all powerful. We also believe that God has a plan of summing up all things in Jesus (Eph. 1:8-10) and in doing so one day He will restore all the years that the locusts have eaten, and one day He will wipe away all the tears, and one day He will bring beauty out of the ashes, and turn our mourning into joy, and in that day there will be no more pain, and in that day there will be no more tears…

… and in that day there will only be the experience of peace, rest, joy, love, and we will bask in the glory of God. II Cor 4 tells us that His glory is so going to “oppress us” that it is going to be an eternal weight placed upon us that will be so incredible that the sufferings of this world are not even going to be worthy to be compared to the glory that is revealed – and here is the amazing thing – that glory will be revealed IN US! We are going to radiate in our own lives, in our own person, the glory of the Person of God Himself!The God who refuses to allow anyone or anything to compete with His glory, is going to freely share His glory with His kids.

So why is this happening? I don’t know, I am too small to understand how such tragedy can be used by God to accomplish such good. I do know that God and only God could ever pull that off.

So I, bewildered, and perplexed, place my hand in His and
trust Him Who is so much bigger and better than I am.

Please, please, however, do not hear me being “theological” here, or flippant in any way.

Little kids have died and parents now have empty arms.
Parents have died, and little kids have been robbed of their mommies and daddies.
Some have been robbed of their kind and gentle-hearted grandparents!

Wickedness has devastated so many lives; pain reigns and tears flow! So where is God in all this? That is the question I heard on the morning news as a news commentator asked a pastor that very question, “Where is God?” I won’t go into the pastor’s answer. He did well, but in my own heart of hearts, I would have answered differently.

If someone had asked me, “So where is God when things like this happen?” I would have answered very simply, “He is in the same place He was when His own Son got slaughtered by wicked men exercising their free choice to do evil, and His Father's heart was grieving then just like it is grieving right now. Wicked men have exercised their free choice to do evil once again, and His heart is weeping just like our heart is weeping, for we as believers share His same heart!

Well then, why doesn’t He just send the Lord Jesus back right now and put an end to this madness. Oh please hear my heart, I pray that virtually every day, just as the early church prayed. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus! But do you realize, if he came today and did put an end to this world as we know it, so many, so very many people of unbelief would die in their sins and spend an eternity separated from God.

One morning, not long ago, I was praying that Jesus would return soon, and the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Son, that is a very selfish prayer.” If you know me at all, you will not be surprised by my answer, as I asked the Lord, “Sir, and your point is?” I heard nothing more that morning, I surmise that our Father shook His head as if to say, “What am I going to do with that one?”

I have always been, and I suppose I always will be a “why child” and not settle for overly simplistic Christian jargon or trite cliché. I hope you won’t either.

This is not the time for Christian cliché and jargon.
It is not even a time for contemplation.
 It is a time for action. It is a time, not for “why” but for WHAT!

What are we to do in light of what and who we know about Who God is and longs to be to us! And what are we to do with the horror and degradation and loss that our eyes see on the evening news? II Cor. 1 is the passage that issues forth our marching orders for times such as this! It tells us that we who have been comforted with the comfort with which only God can comfort, are to comfort others!

Oh dear beloved ones of God, do you hear it??

Ours is not to try and figure out what cannot be discerned, ours is to march into the battlefront and unleash the love and care of God into the destruction that the enemy has wrought upon humanity.

Ours is to hold on tight and hug those who mourn, ours is to weep with those who weep, ours is to not try and fix people but just extend the look in the eye and express very little words on our lips.

We cannot fix people who endure such tragedy, so why do we try with such trite stupid phrases like, “It will get better!” or “They are in a better place!”

Don’t you realize that in that moment a mom or dad does not want their child in a better place, they want them in their arms? How insensitive can we be? No, ours is to be quiet, to be available, to love, and if we must speak, if we simply must speak – let it be simple and powerful. “I love you, and I am praying for you!” That is all, and that is enough! In the moment of great anguish, people do not need theology, they need love and comfort and we can be the ones to do that. We can be the ones who offer God the Comforter with skin on…. As we unleash the Spirit of God Who dwells within us unto others to simply love and comfort.

In these very dark days, the world desperately needs to see the light of God, and we are as Jesus said, the light of the world because He, the true light, lives within us to be expressed by us.

As Jesus said, let our good works so shine before men, that the world will have to admit that God is alive because they can see Him in us.

As the Apostle Paul put it in II Cor. 4, “As  the death comes upon us daily from the outside in, the resurrection life can be unleashed by us from the inside out, to overcome the death so that world seeing the death and resurrection lived out in the present tense, will be forced to join the heavenly choir and admit that there is a God!” (My paraphrase). Therefore, we do not quit (II Cor 4:16)

I leave you with the words of Francis of Assissi, “Preach Christ always, and sometimes use words.”

The world has heard our words, it is so dark now they need to see the light of our works – and specifically the works of love and comfort!

 

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When The Icing Melts...

I have my  Zoe  life to enjoy even in the darkest days that I experience in a fallen world. 

I have my Zoe life to enjoy even in the darkest days that I experience in a fallen world. 

There are two main Greek words used in the Bible for life. One is the word baios from which we get biography. It refers to life as man lives it. The other word is zoe which refers to life as God lives it! The dynamic of what the Bible teaches is that we have the potential to experience both of those at the same time, which is something the unbeliever cannot do. 

An unbeliever has baios life bestowed upon him by God, and he lives his life in this world. When we place our faith in Jesus, and He takes up residence within us, we now have the opportunity to experience and express the "zoe life”.  We experience life as God lives it, at the same time we experience “baios life". Amazing!

I want to illustrate it this way. Zoe life is like having cake. Cake is a wonderful and sweet thing to have. Cake can often come with icing, and cake and icing are really what I want to have most in this life. Icing is when baios life, is going very well. Icing is when the kids are happy and obedient, and my spouse is happy and content, and there is money in the bank, and I am feeling really good. That is cake and icing, and I really love icing with my cake.

The problem is that baios life, life in this fallen world, is all too often not a very good thing. Very often my kids are in trouble, and I am at odds with my spouse, and there are bills piling up, and there is no icing for me. BUT HERE IS THE KEY! I still have my cake, and will always have my cake. No one and no circumstance can ever take away my cake. I may prefer to have icing, and it may hurt to not have the icing, but I HAVE MY CAKE! I have my Zoe life to enjoy even in the darkest days that I experience in a fallen world. 

Let me put it another way. There may be tears of sorrow and grief cascading down my cheeks (no icing, fallen world baios life), but at the very same time because God lives in me, I experience peace, joy, and rest (cake; Zoe life).

Praise God for this wonderful mystery, now revealed, Christ in us, our hope of glory! (Col. 1)

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Another Journey Of Being Conformed

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You will know that you have gained the heart of God when you want more for people than they want for themselves.

That in turn, will break your heart.

You will have then been more conformed to the image of Christ, for He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He wept over people who missed out on all that He came to bring them...

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Those Who Are Crushed In Spirit He Makes Whole

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

Psalm 34:18 is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible, for obvious reasons. I personally believe that every believer ought to have this verse as one of their favorites.

It says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves (makes whole) those who are crushed in spirit.”

I trust you now know why I say it is one of my favorites “for obvious reasons.” We all live in a world that we were never designed to live in. We were designed to live in a garden paradise called Eden, and if you had not noticed it yet --- “THIS IS NOT IT!” The result is that we all experience things that we were never designed to experience like sorrow, and rejection, and betrayal, and loneliness, and pain. These things can literally crush our spirit. They can leave us in desperate need of someone to “come near” to us and begin the “WORK” of making us whole again.

One of the problems in finding such a one though is that the others who might be able and desirous of coming to our aid are also dealing with their own struggles from living in this fallen world. Very often they are unable to do so because of all that this fallen world has placed on their own plate. This can leave us “feeling” terribly alone and promote a serious spirit of hopelessness deep in our soul. That is the great glory of this verse from Psalm 34:18.

Though others may not be able to come to our aid, God is able and promises to do so.

I am reminded of the words of Asaph in Psalm 73, when he realized this great truth about God he declared, “Who do I have in heaven but you oh God? And who do I have on earth, but you oh God.”

Though we may “feel” alone and desperate and think that nobody cares, that is not the truth. God is near! And not only is He near, He is actively working to unleash all that He is to all that we need in the moment of faith as we trust Him.

If you are broken-hearted today and crushed in Spirit, I pray that you will cry out to Him Who is near to you, and that your experience will be as David’s was in Psalm 23, that He will restore your soul!

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Dealing With Pain

It hurts to hurt! We were not designed to hurt! When we hurt, we want to stop hurting! There is NOTHING wrong with that at all. The great Apostle Paul hurt often. In II Cor 1, he hurt so bad he says that he was despairing of life! Did you hear that? He wanted to die! It is sad that people miss this passage and the honesty that we should all have in the body of Christ to share our struggles.

It is sad that the body of Christ all too often does not allow us to struggle. I wonder how many in the modern church would have hushed Paul and told him he was not offering a “positive confession” or that he was being a bad example of faith to others. I love his honesty.

He declared another time in II Cor 12 that he had a thorn in the flesh, and it hurt so bad he begged God to take it away. Again, an honest testimony. Obviously, Paul did not believe in “triumphalism” – the belief that we are able to live above our circumstances. That is something God never promised. Even the Lord Jesus Himself, was in such torment in the garden of Eden, that he was sweating blood and begging the Father that there might be another way available to Him besides the way of the cross. 

The key is that neither of their desperate situations ended in despair. In Jesus life, the Father strengthened Him as He resolved to live according to the Father’s will. Paul in II Cor 1 remembered the resurrection life and power of Jesus, that life rose up within him to empower him through the experience of death that had come upon him. And in II Cor 12, God’s power showed up in Paul’s weakness enabling him to endure the thorn in his life. Did you see the common ground in each of these issues? They did not experience “triumphalism” – living “above” their circumstances.

Rather, they experienced God in and through the midst of their experiences. They encountered death and life at the same time! They experienced sorrow and joy at the same time! They experienced weakness and strength at the same time! This is the reality that only we as believers can experience. We are the only ones on the planet who can weep sorrowful and joy filled tears at the same time and here is what I want you to take away. 

This opportunity to suffer in faith, is only provided for us in this life. Years from now, in eternity future, we may have the desire to love our heavenly Father and come to Him and tell Him, “Oh Father. I love you so much I am willing to suffer for you!” That is a noble declaration on our parts, but do you realize the folly of that desire? He will say to us in return, “Oh my child. Thank you for your heart. But that opportunity was already provided for you during your life on earth. You can never, ever have the opportunity to suffer for me again for all eternity!”

The Bible says there is a crown reserved for those who suffer in faith. I must admit, I do not understand what that really means, but I do realize that I only have one shot at “earning” that crown, and then that opportunity will be gone forever. That reality has changed my perspective on the wounds that come in to my life in this world. I still don’t want to hurt! It hurts to hurt! But, those hurts provide me with an opportunity to trust God in a way that is beyond the scope of normal faith – and the opportunity to do so is a fleeting one, only available “in the moment!”

Hmmmmmmmm….

Only Good and Mercy

Psalm 23 is a favorite of so many people. It is most often read at funerals, but the psalm is really for the living... for those who are journeying through a dark and sometimes lonely world. The glory of the psalm is that we do not walk through this "valley of the shadow of death" alone, for HE, the living and all powerful God of the universe is with us.

Because He is with us, v. 5-6 tell us that there is a banquet spread for us before those foes that sought to vanquish us. Ours is the final victory. In that "spread" that is laid out before us, we are told that "surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives..."

The word I want to home in on is "surely"... it is the Hebrew word ak, and can be translated surely, truly, or nevertheless. The translation I prefer is "only".... In other words this is the Rom 8:28 of the Old Testament. There are things that really look and feel bad in this journey through the valley of the shadow of death, but in that day, when we sit at the feast with our Lord Jesus and celebrate His and our victory, we will look back at all those bad and fearful things that we experienced and see ONLY the GOOD that our Father was working into our lives... and they will be bad and fearful to us no more....

But for God... this would not be true.