Looking to the Good Shepherd in Times of Great Loss – Psalm 23
“4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 NIV
Tonight I am shaken up to say the least. I found out earlier today that a very dear friend has gone on to be with Jesus. Our friend Kalei leaves behind a husband and two beautiful kids (one of them being only a month old). She and her husband have been dear friends to us and she actually introduced my wife and I to each other back in 1996!
When my daughter Grace goes to bed at night, she fears something something that many children are afraid of. The dark. After all, who knows what kind of monsters, creatures of the night, and bad guys are lurking and waiting in the darkness of our bedrooms (and especially under the bed). Sometimes after we put her to bed amd turn off the lights, I hear a high pitched voice saying, “Daddy, turn on the light. I can’t see. I’m scared.”
As parents, we know that there is nothing to fear in the dark as we get ready for bed. We know there are no monsters in the closet, and the most ferocious thing under the bed are dust bunnies. We know that there are no bad guys lingering in the hallways.
We know that there is no evil to be feared, but a five-year-old doesn’t.
I think that a child often feels the same way about the dark that we feel about death.
We’re afraid because we aren’t sure what awaits us up ahead.
As soon as I hear my daughter’s voice calling out to me from the dark, take a guess at what I’d do. Do I withdraw and leave her there to struggle alone? Not a chance. Do I hide in the dark and let her fend for herself? Maybe I’d jump out from the dark to scare her and get a good laugh? Of course not!
I reach out, grab the hand of my kiddo and encourage her. “Don’t worry boy. Daddy is here.” When she hears me and knows I am near, he fears no evil. Why? Because she knows that her father with her.
In the 23rd Psalm, David the shepherd states, “I will fear no evil.” How is it that David could make such a bold claim? Simple. David knew that God was with him. David didn’t find his hope in the other sheep. David turned to his Shepherd for comfort. Rather than stare at the problems, he stared at the rod and staff of His shepherd. Because David knew where to look and whom to look he needed to look, he was able to say with confidence, “I will fear no evil.”
It is encouraging to know that God wants to be present for us, the same way any parent would be there for thier child.
I remember reading of a man who had a fear of crowds. When he was surrounded by large groups, panic would surface, and he’d begin to sweat profusely. His counsel and help came from an odd place: a golfing buddy.
When the two friends were at a crowded event, the fearful man was reminded of the golf course.
His friend asked him, “When you are hitting your ball out of the rough, and you are surrounded by trees, what do you do?”
“I look for an opening.”
“Really? You don’t stare at all the trees around you?”
“Of course not. I find an opening and focus on hitting the ball through that opening.”
Then came the wise advise. “Do the same in the crowd. When you feel the panic coming, don’t focus on the people around you; focus on the opening.”
It is good counsel in golf. It is also good counsel in life. David teaches in the 23rd Psalm that rather than placing my focus on the fear, we ought to focus on the solution. I know it is hard, but rather than placing our focus on the intense pain that we endure today, perhaps our focus should be on the blessings that we have had. Rather than focusing on the loss of today, I wonder if David was encouraged because he could focus on being grateful for the time, the memories, and the relationships that he have had.
Holy Spirit, the scripture calls You a Comforter. I pray that You would be the Comforter for my friend Jon and his family during this difficult and dark time. I don’t know why things happen the way they do, but I know that You are present. Thank You for the great memories, relationships, fun times, laughs, and life that I enjoyed with my friend. Lord she is entirely in Your care now, and I thank You for that, but we mourn because we will miss her dearly. In Your precious name Jesus. Amen.