The Middle World
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
In the ebb and flow of this
between the already of rescuing grace
and the not yet of final victory grace,
where things are not yet what they
should and will be,
yet so much better than they would be without
the gloriously transformative interruption
of the cross,
where the process of
there is reason to mourn.
There are times in this middle world
where sadness is profound,
darkness seems deep,
victory is a distant shore,
and the journey seems too hard.
In the dark night of mourning,
human suffering seems too great,
the messiness of the church seems too prevalent,
the power of remaining sin seems too strong,
the failure of heroes too frequent,
too many false messiahs,
too many lost ones,
God’s army consumed by too much infighting
to have strength left to fight the one true enemy.
The world around us groans
and we, too, groan for the final redemption,
that distant victorious shore,
promised, but not yet realized.
But in the dark valley there is a presence,
one like us but completely unlike us.
He is with us in the night,
a shining light of holiness and hope,
wisdom and power,
justice and mercy.
He is resolute yet tender,
on the march but patient,
convicting and comforting,
ruling and rescuing,
commanding and empowering,
promising and providing.
He beckons us to walk through the darkness,
eyes on him,
trust in our hearts,
with confidence and courage,
humility and hope,
meditating, not on the darkness,
but on the light of his presence,
his rule on our behalf
and the grace he brings with him.
He gifts us with reasons to celebrate,
we are not alone,
so much provided, that we
could never provide
The fruit of his rescuing and transforming grace
are flashes of light in the darkness.
They punctuate the night,
causing the night not to be so dark.
In the darkest of nights,
his presence and his grace
give us reason to celebrate.
We are not alone;
his presence with us means we will reach
that distant shore.
We will see the final victory,
we will eat at the banquet table of the
He is our guarantee,
our destiny is secure.
So we don’t just mourn, we celebrate.
The days are often dark and sad,
but we have divine assistance for the journey,
a divine guarantee of victory.
Tears mixed with joy is the way of
the middle world,
because in darkness we begin to hear
the distant sound of songs of victory.
“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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.” (Psalm 23:4-6)
Paul David Tripp
1. It’s easy to reflect on the brokenness of the world after a major tragedy or a personal crisis, but how often do you reflect on its brokenness in your day-to-day life? How might an increased awareness of sin be helpful in your walk with God?
2. How does God’s presence change how you live in this broken world? Be specific about some of the ways you find practical help from God (prayer, worship, fellowship with other believers, etc.).
3. What are some ways you can be a “sad celebrant” today, mourning the brokenness of the world while celebrating the rescue of grace?
4. Read Psalm 23. How can this psalm help you during times of trouble?
5. Pray that God would give you eyes to see your sin clearly today and ask for His grace to reign in your heart.