Tuesday, December 1, 2009

23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want……Ps 23.

My wife was recently a model in a fashion show where all the models were breast cancer survivors. Each was able to share words of wisdom regarding their struggle with cancer. One young woman was one year post mastectomy and her 6-year-old daughter was modeling with her. They both looked great. This young mom’s advice to others facing the same struggle was, “But the most important part of my story is not at all about implants, portacaths or nausea drugs. It is the peace that passes all understanding that God wrapped around me from the moment I found that lump. He gave me an assurance that everything was going to be okay no matter what.”

Most of us raised in the Church can remember learning and hearing the 23rd Psalm repeatedly during our lives, usually in times where we have needed comfort and needed an assurance that Someone Greater is watching over us. God is our great shepherd and we know that we will not be in want. All that is good in our lives comes from Him. We live with confidence that, with God, all is going to be okay.

A nonbeliever might say, “Some shepherd---led her right into breast cancer.”

The 23rd psalm is either true in the face of great difficulties that Christians endure, or is not true at all. Somehow we have to accept the fact that the dangerous and painful landscape where we walk as Christians is often as difficult as the landscape where nonbelievers walk. If we Christian sheep can fall or jump off rocky ledges like sheep that have no faith, even with a Shepherd we can trust, what realistic comfort does this psalm provide?

In our feeble efforts to understand the mystery of God, since we know the psalm speaks truth, it probably speaks to three facts:

1) God is our Shepherd and he will always lead us well. We are safe with Him.

2)He guides us in safety around many of the difficulties of life, but not all of them. He provides everything we need to accomplish His purposes for our lives but does not provide all that we desire. He does not clear the rocks and cliffs from the landscape of this fallen world to keep us totally free from harm. In fact, some Christians suffer tragedies far greater than some atheists in this world.

3)This psalm is totally true, and perhaps it is true because our relationship with Him is more important than our circumstances; because He alone knows what it takes to redeem a lost and broken Creation; because He alone knows what it takes to bring glory to His name; because He is willing to allow us, like Christ, to be hurt by the world at times in order to accomplish His loving will; and, because He has all eternity to make it all okay.

God’s truth, God’s love, God’s mystery.

Dear Father,
Thank you for being our Guide through life, our Shepherd through a fallen world. Thank you for the joy and comfort You provide for us. Help us in the difficult times to follow faithfully, confident that, with You, all is okay. Amen

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