A couple of weeks ago we used the Evening Prayer of the Northumbria Community as part of our worship. I’ve used this liturgy many times before, but for the first time I almost choked up as I said the words “I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. Something in them struck me quite powerfully, and so I wanted to reflect on that.
I think my initial reaction was that there is hope for the future in them, as they express a belief that there is goodness to be revealed, that death and darkness will not be the final word. But then I saw a determination about the present in them, a commitment to watch for goodness here, a desire to seek the Lord now.
This only becomes clearer when you see these words in their context. Like most of the lines from the canticle, they come from Psalm 27, in which the psalmist both seeks the temple of the Lord and declares that the Lord shall save him from his circumstances.
Seeing the goodness of the Lord is not just a passive waiting but an active seeking. And it is not reserved for the heavenly courts but is worked out in earthly situations.
I also love the way the psalmist moves from acknowledging the trials of life to declaring “I still believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord”. This is an act of defiance against all the things that threaten that faith, a claiming of the truth that enables them to keep going through everything.
There’s almost something of a mantra about these words. I think I would do well to memorise them and repeat them on my most difficult days.
Even though I am scared to read the news because it only seems to go from bad to worse, still I remain confident that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Even when I feel overwhelmed by exhaustion and anxiety, still I believe that there is joy and peace to be found in all of this. Even if the darkness falls, still I will look for the light.
And so I will hold fast to hope and open my eyes to goodness. Because I know I shall see it in this land that I live in.