A few summers ago I participated in Plastic Free July, designed to help us cut back on single-use plastic and plastic packaging. And though it may seem odd, it’s helped me understand Psalm 23! “So,” you’re wondering, “what does plastic have to do with this Psalm?” (And no, I’ve not gone round the bend!)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me, (Psalm 23:4).
Well, the interesting thing about this pledge was the ‘dilemma bag’, where all the unavoidable plastic got set aside, for eventual recycling into useful items. A àpropos name, surely intended to help participants see plastic as a dilemma, in need of solutions.
It was the dilemma bag that got me thinking.
Because some plastic gets reused and made into durable things that we use for a long time. But much of it becomes single-use items that wind up in landfills, remaining for a long time. Creating a dilemma, for us and for the earth.
And that’s what life is like. Filled with many beautiful, happy times; bright rays of sunshine in our days. But we also pass through cloudy, gray moments. Difficult experiences that we’d like to escape from.
Moments when we could use a dilemma bag!
A place to stuff our problems, and get rid of them. An escape from the confusion and the heaviness. But we don’t get a dilemma bag in life. There is no place to dispose of the hard times, the problems. We just have to deal with them. Accept them, and carry on.
And this is where Psalm 23 comes in.
Though we have no dilemma bag, we do have One who helps us through problems. He is with us in the sea of life, riding the storms and the frightening waves. Stretching out his hands and keeping us safe.
And like the Dilemma Bag, he takes all the troubles which seem grievous and harmful, and he turns them into useful things. Lessons that help us grow and change. Testing our faith and teaching us to trust him. And there, in the valleys dark as death, we learn that no matter how dark or how deep our valley seems, the Lord’s loving care is always with us.
There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still, Corrie ten Boom.
What dilemma are you facing? Right there in your valley, call on the One who can turn despair into hope!
Now, if only the Plastic Problem was so easily solved…grrr!