Have you ever doubted where your next paycheck will come from? What would you and your family would do if you lost your job? Have you ever been uncertain where your next meal will come from? Maybe the times today have caused you to wonder and ask yourself these questions.
These thoughts are not foreign to man and have been around for thousands of years. In Psalms 23, David writes a beautiful psalm to remember in times like these:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In reading this Psalm, the first thing that sticks out to me is David calling the LORD his shepherd (v.1) This is ironic to me because one of the first things we learn about David in the Bible is that he was a shepherd, and a good one! He humbles himself and acknowledges the LORD as his shepherd. Talk about removing any sense of pride in the first verse.
David then describes how and where the Lord leads him. God provides for his needs, allows him to rest, enjoy the beauty of His creation, and restores his soul. Much like David, the LORD, who is my Shepherd, provides, cares and restores my soul. This is something I can forget on a normal day. When you add in the stressors of today’s world, it only makes it harder to remember. I can find myself doubting these truths and asking questions like, “God are you there?” “How can you be there when all of this is going on?” “How can you allow this to happen?”
Thankfully, this was not something David was unaware of. He writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (v.4a) Doesn’t that relate to today? It seems like everything is falling apart and every day brings more bad news: job loss, death, economic crisis. The list goes on and on. However, we will fear no evil because God is with us. Although evil is close, God is closer. David acknowledges the evil that he sees and feels it’s surrounding him, but he also gives that evil its rightful place. It is a dark valley he is walking through, but it is not something that overcomes him.
If you remember taking Drivers Education courses in school, you might remember the instructor telling you where to look when driving. He instructed you to look forward and to keep focus on something. For me, that was either the car in front of me, or the painted lines on the road. Sometimes when the driving conditions are perfect, I text and drive (I know I’m a rule breaker and I am working on not doing this at all). However, if there’s a thunderstorm or a blizzard, you better believe that I am not texting. I see the severity of what’s going on and want to get through the storm. If it’s really bad out and I can’t even see the car in front of me, do you know where my eyes are glued to during that time? You guessed it, the painted lines on the road.
In a similar way friends, right now we are in a storm. It is dark, and if we focus on the storm and forget who is with us in this time, we may get lost or run off the road. The storm can be overwhelming alone, but thanks be to God that we are not alone.
I will not fear evil, even in the storm, because you, God, are with me. He not only is with me, but He uses His rod and staff to comfort me (v.4b). Friends, may we cling to the truth of this verse. He is with us and He cares and comforts us. The world may seem like chaos right now and it is, we shouldn’t play ignorant. However, don’t let it steal your focus. Don’t let it be what guides your life. We can make it through this storm, because the LORD is with us.
David ends the Psalms saying that goodness and mercy shall follow him all the days of his life, and he will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Today, right now in the storm, God’s goodness and mercy are true. Why? Because He is with me in the storm. This doesn’t diminish the severity of the storm, but it gives hope. Hope that He sees the victory before we do, all we need to do is focus on Him.
Written by: Eliseo Hernandez, Collective Group Director