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His delight is not in the strength of the horse nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love (Psalm 147:10–11).

“For every situation and eventuality there is a parable if you look carefully enough” ~ Malcolm Muggeridge (1903–1990)[1]


A Parabolic Hospital Visit
While at the hospital for a minor operation on his nose, an incident occurred that took on the force of a parable of the human condition for Eugene Peterson (1932–2018).

After his operation, nurses wheeled him into a double-occupancy room where he met a young man named Kelly. In an effort to strike up a conversation with him, Peterson asked his hospital neighbor what he was in for.

“I’m having my tonsils removed,” the youngster answered.

“What are you here for?” Kelly asked in return.

“Just had a minor procedure on my nose. No big deal,” Peterson retorted.

“So what do you do for work?” Kelly probed, nonchalantly.

“I’m a pastor,” replied Peterson.

“Oh,” Kelly muttered, and turned away.

He wasn’t interested in dialoging with a man of the cloth. Awkward silence ensued.

But Kelly’s tune changed in the morning: “Peterson, Peterson–wake up! I want you to pray for me. I’m scared!” His half-conscious state notwithstanding, Peterson went to his bedside and prayed for him.

After Kelly returned to the room, a nurse gave him an injection to relieve his pain. Within twenty minutes, however, he began to groan. “I hurt, I can’t stand it. I’m going to die.” Next he started hallucinating and shouting: “Peterson, pray for me, can’t you see I’m dying! Peterson, pray for me!”[2]

The point of the parable? Kelly showed interest in God when he was fearful or thought he was dying. When all was well, his interest evaporated.

In keeping with all of Scripture, Psalm 147 paints a different picture of the relationship God intends to have with his creatures––a relationship more honoring to him and more befitting our humanity. Psalm 147 evokes our worship by extolling the splendor of creation, the goodness of God, and the exquisiteness of his providence. Because God is all-powerful and ever-faithful, he is worthy of our wholehearted trust at all times, not only when we are fearful or passing through seasons of turmoil.

Two Precious Truths to Ponder
We can trust God because he is all-wise and all-powerful. Our God numbers and names all the stars (Ps. 147:4), adorns the skies with clouds (v. 8), and waters the earth with rain (v. 8). “He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly,” the Psalmist declares (v. 15), underlining that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1): “And here in the dust and dirt, O here, the lilies of His love appear,” is how Henry Vaughan (1621–1695), poetically expressed it.

Our unreserved trust honors God and befits our humanity. God designed human beings for a blessedness that exists outside themselves. As creatures who are fragile, finite, and fallen, we are neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. Consequently, self-trust is culpable folly, the height of sacrilege, and the pinnacle of headstrong arrogance. Lifting our gaze heavenward and leaning on God for all things pleases him because it acknowledges him as our provider and requires a posture of dependence. Only the one who is himself the “true and complete life,” bestows, sustains, and blesses our lives.[3]

Well-Pleased with His Beloved Son
Ultimately, our hope is neither in ourselves, nor in the intensity of our trust in God, which often ebbs and flows. Our only hope in life and in death is our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of the Father, with whom he was and is always well-pleased (Matt. 3:17). The wonder of our salvation is that we participate in the Son’s relationship with the Father by grace. We are sons in the Son. And this shall be our joy for all eternity.

To knead these truths into our hearts, here’s a closing prayer from Bishop Miles Coverdale (1488–1569):

O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee; join them together in inseparable love, that we may ever abide in thee and thou in us, and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure for ever. Let the fiery darts of thy love pierce through all our slothful members and inward powers, that we, being happily wounded, may so become whole and sound. Let us have no lover but thyself alone; let us seek no joy and comfort except in thee; for thy name’s sake. Amen.[4]


[1] Malcom Muggeridge, “Rapture,” in Seeing through the Eye: Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith, ed. Cecil Kuhne (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 41.

[2] This is my paraphrase of the story as recounted in Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2000), 161–162.

[3] Augustine, Soliloquies, trans. Kim Paffenroth, ed. John E. Rotelle (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2000), 21.

[4] Cited in John Webster, “A Reawakened Affection,” in Christ Our Salvation: Expositions and Proclamations, ed. Daniel Bush (Bellingham, WA: Lexhem Press, 2020), 12.