The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23
As if the fear, paranoia, and anxiety surrounding catching the Coronavirus is not enough, today thousands, if not millions, of people face unemployment, piling bills, and rising mortgage pressure. How are we to get through this? People around the world are likely to be thinking ‘Is the rising panic I feel in my chest anxiety, or could it be the virus?’ Worry, paranoia, fear, sickness, and superstition threaten to derail humanity. What should we as Christians be doing? What should we be thinking? Some of us may be questioning the strength of our own faith and wondering how to appear strong for family and friends?’
Today, you and I have some decisions to make. We can give in to worry. We can give in to fear. We can continue to obsess over the news and the latest Covid-19 figures from around the world. We can allow yourselves to be lost in Facebook or momentarily entertained by celebrities on social media or you and I can take pause to seek what it is that God is wanting to say to us in this moment. There is opportunity for us here in this deeply uncertain time, to claim the very certainly that God offers. One day soon this virus will be beaten, one day soon we will all go back to work, and one day soon we will be able to buy more toilet rolls. However, if and I you don’t listen, if you and I don’t seek, if you and I don’t desire, we will miss what God wants us to feel, to learn and do right now. It’s up to you. It’s up to me. God’s promises to those who trust in him are abundant in his word.
Let’s look at Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need…’ This is one of the most well-known and quoted chapters of the bible. It is often read aloud at funerals and memorial services. Because of this, we associate the verses with a type of solemnity. Heads bow and listeners wait for the reading to be over as it sounds almost like a religious rite. Often the Psalm seems to be the most appropriate thing to say during such grief when nothing seems to makes sense. However, the darkest valley, or the shadow of death, makes up only 1/6 of the chapter! The rest of the chapter is teeming with life and promises. It also describes a God who is committed to tending his people.
God as the shepherd. A shepherd devotes themselves to looking after his ‘flock’. In this case his flock are his believers, the people who decide to follow him. God as the shepherd also provides for all your needs, gives you rest when you need it and leads lead you into nourishing places. And, as you bring honor to his name, he will guide you along the right path. The promises continue: He comforts you in mourning and dark places, he is your safety and protection, walking beside you and longing for you to ‘cast your fear on him’, all the while urging you on to righteousness. He also even prepares a wonderful and edifying feast for you in the presence of your enemies, when things are desperately awful. He honors your faithfulness, and blesses you abundantly. It is certain that his goodness and unfailing love will pour out on you for all the days of your life. That’s what the Psalm says. It is a chapter of the bible with profound sentiment for all the days of your life, not just the valleys. Though it is the valley where we feel and cry out for him the most. And it is obvious that right now, the entire world is in a valley. Can we turn ourselves to God? Can you and I find him in his word? If this Psalm can say so much, what else can be found in his word?
Is there something that God wants to say to you, to me today? As the world reels from the shock, death, and economic disaster that is Covid-19, is there something that God wants you and I to learn, to do, in this moment? How do you think God wants you to feel as the entire world shakes in fear? Should us christians be afraid, irritated, angry, worried? Or should we be calm, rational and unafraid? Should we feel protected as the Pslam indicates? And could we feel, dare I say it, joyful? The shepherd offers such things, if we want them.
In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, chapter 19 describes an encounter the prophet Elijah had with the living God. First the Lord passes by him and a mighty windstorm hits the mountain Elijah was standing on. After the wind there was an earthquake, then there was a fire but the Lord God was not in any of these things. Rather, after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. Here, here was the Lord, and speaking gently with him. In all the noise of today, God’s whisper is there. Add to that, we have the Bible where he makes his character, his plan and his promises made known to us daily, fresh every morning…just now to read it. But it’s hard, I know.
During this pandemic, I have been encouraged by reading the Bible daily in many ways. And as I have been encouraged, I began this blog to be an encouragement to you. I know the website is very basic. I am an amateur in this. This is my fourth post! Thank you to those people who have read it, I really hope that it is providing reason and inspiration to your own thoughts. If you like what I’m doing, and where I’m going then please follow along. After I learn a little about website design, I hope to have a fancy page for you with other sources of biblical knowledge and inspiration and a section for comments and interaction but for now, this will have to do. Again, please know that I’m not a theologian, I’m not an expert, I am just an average person trying to make sense in all of this just like you. My prayer for you is that God provides you with peace and understanding as you seek him in his word. #bethelight