(By Rachel Joyce)
No true good, no real peace or genuine joy is possible apart from God. As we obey Him, we discover that His way is the good way leading to wholeness and fullness of life. Moses taught the Israelites this:
Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you (Deu. 5:32-33 NKJV).
And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you (Deu. 6:18).
The word “well” in the original Hebrew of Deuteronomy five means to be or to make something good, sound (as in whole), beautiful, happy, successful, right. It also has the idea of benefitting or making glad. So, when we obey Him, when we do what is right in His sight, we find joy and wholeness, even in the midst of harrowing circumstances. Even when the trials are hard and obedience costs us more than we think we can afford, His ways are for our blessing. When we are brought to an end of ourselves we find He is there. The comfort He provides sustains us and we discover that His presence is the sweetest of all blessings.
His ways always benefit us, but God’s concept of benefiting doesn’t always match ours. In Psalm 116, where the psalmist contemplates on the goodness of God and all His benefits, we discover that the literal meaning for the word “benefits” (tagmûl) is acts of grace (Ps. 116:12, Strong’s Concordance). The Hebrew root of that word (tagmûl) is a word (gâmul) which means to do good, to ripen. Sometimes God allows us to go through a painful trial and His way for us feels anything but good. We struggle, crying out to God for the grace to endure because we know that without it, we will surely go under. In this agonizing wrestling with God, we learn to cling more tightly, to trust more deeply. And we discover that what we thought would be the death of us has actually been an act of grace, growing and ripening our faith as we grow in His grace and experience His presence in profound and satisfying ways.