Psalm Twenty Three, many people's favorite psalm, is a welcome message amid the tumultuous and painful events in the world today. We hear the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” and in our imagination we picture comforting images of Jesus the Good Shepherd leading and guarding his flock. We resonate with the promise of the Psalm. Knowing, however, that we rarely feel like we are being led through soft green pastures, could be a challenge to our faith. Is God really here? Will Jesus protect me now?
I believe the Twenty-Third Psalm is meant to console us, precisely by helping us reach to the core of our need, to acknowledge and accept our dependence on God, and to transfer our desires to the person of the Lord in whom we put all our trust. In other words, we may not experience our cup to be overflowing or feel as though we were resting by quiet streams, yet we have the certainty that the Lord is our Good Shepherd.
This week let us find comfort by breaking open Psalm 23 and reading it anew. Verse by verse, let’s reverse the meaning of the phrases, and pray these words from the depths of our own anxiety or sorrow as a profound act of faith. First, however, I invite you to stop before you go on, and to get in touch with the deepest needs of your own heart, and remember those who are in the greatest need of protection and comfort in these days.
Psalm 23 – An Act of Faith
I feel alone, I lack everything…. Jesus, I reach out to you who are my Good Shepherd.
I have nowhere to lie down, the pasture is full of weeds, and the water is stagnant….Jesus, you alone are my Good Shepherd.
I don’t know which way to turn. Walking through the dark valley I am worried. I fear you won't be there when I need you…. Jesus, I trust in you who are my Good Shepherd.
There is nothing provided for me here. I am tired and exhausted. My cup is empty….Jesus, be my Good Shepherd.
Will your goodness and love follow me now, O Lord? Will I dwell in your house?... Jesus, I know you will be faithful. I entrust myself to you who are my Good Shepherd.
Faith doesn’t come easy. We hope in things unseen. We exercise the eyes of faith in the midst of darkness and confusion. We hope for a future when things appear to be ending. Ultimately, we learn the great lesson that when we reach deep into our own experiences of fear and anger, we are able to grab onto the hand of the One who alone can help us make sense of it all.