Part 3 of a 5-part devotional by Brent Lanigan
The psalms are some of the most beautiful books written in the Bible. They articulate many emotions that people experience throughout their lives – both in times of contentment and in crisis moments. There are many psalms that reflect people’s praise to God: their joy, worship and adoration of him. But did you know that there are also psalms that express peoples’ honest and raw emotions: their fears, anxiety and hopelessness?
During this COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps you or your family are feeling overwhelmed in a way that you have never experienced before. The beauty of these “comfort psalms” is that they don’t leave us feeling emotionally helpless. Instead, because these passages beautifully reflect pictures of God’s caring character, we are reminded of how much God loves us. Comfort psalms give us hope, peace and assurance that God is always with us and fully understands all the emotions that we feel deeply during times of crisis. Are your ready to discover God in the comfort psalms? Let’s get started:
Part 3: God Is Our Caring Shephard
Psalm 23:4-6 (a psalm of David) Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me. You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil of blessing on my head. You give me more than I can hold. Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life. And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
I had the privilege of growing up a pastor’s kid, which always makes for some fun stories and remembrances. One of my favorites is the summer my dad was asked to be the speaker for children’s week at a Bible camp. It so happened that the lesson my dad was speaking on one day was about Jesus as our Shepherd. In order to help bring perspective to the kids’ understanding of what qualities a shepherd like Jesus should have, my dad asked them this question: “what kinds of shepherds are there?” Fully expecting their answers to be words like good, faithful, and loving, what my dad got instead from one little boy who put up his hand was: “a German shepherd!” Somehow, my dad got things back on track and managed to express to the kids what today’s reading focuses on: how God is our Caring Shepherd.
Sheep are not content and relaxed until they know that they are free from fear and hunger and that they are cared for within the flock. That is why it is so crucial that sheep have a caring shepherd to watch over them, not just a caretaker looking to collect a pay cheque. As we discussed yesterday, a successful shepherd makes sure that the sheep have enough to eat and drink, are protected, don’t get lost, have help in birth and whose injuries are cared for. Now an uncaring shepherd can try to fulfill this role but will not have success because he will only see them as tasks. Only a caring shepherd will be successful in carrying out these responsibilities because he has a genuine interest in the sheep.
Do you know God sees us the same way? He has a genuine, caring heart for us. He understands how we feel during this pandemic. How do we know? Because David writes that God gifts us with his presence when we feel fearful or anxious (I will not be afraid because you are with me), he blesses us with food to eat and a safe place to sleep (you prepare a meal for me), and he gives us his perfect peace when our hearts are churning (your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me). Not only that but his love for us never runs out (your goodness and love will be with me all my life). That’s why God is our Caring Shepherd. Let’s always remember to praise God for how he cares for us so lovingly!
Questions To Discuss Together
1) How does God gift you with his presence?
2) How has God blessed you with food to eat and a safe place to sleep?
3) How does God make you feel loved and cared for?
4) Name a time when God gave you his perfect peace during this pandemic
Thank you God for being our Caring Shepherd. Thank you for your presence, for freeing us from fear and giving us peace. Thank you for always making us feel loved and cared for by you. Amen.