“He restores my soul.” Ps. 23:3a
Christians are often referred to as sheep in the Bible. It is an interesting thing to be called a sheep. Sheep are, in fact, quite dull, dumb and needy creatures. Sheep need a shepherd to watch over them because they do not have any real means of fighting off predators like coyotes, buzzards and cougars. One unique aspect of sheep is their ability to find themselves “cast.” A cast sheep is one who has perhaps laid down to rest and turned onto its side only to find that gravity has turned and pulled them flat on their back. Once in this position a sheep is completely stuck. No amount of effort will get a poor sheep back upright and standing. The only hope the sheep has is an ever-present, alert shepherd to rescue and put him back in an upright position.
When is the last time you were exhausted and discouraged by some situation and found yourself flat on your back? Last month, last week or perhaps right at this very moment? In the early spring of this year, my husband and I were emotionally and physically wrung out as we watched our sweet three year old suffer through several weeks of constant wheezing. We tried everything the doctors told us to do and every medicine with no results. We were at our breaking point with puzzled doctors and no clear treatment. Sweet friends and family gathered around us and continually prayed for us during those weeks. Finally after nine long weeks the wheezing stopped. We still don’t know why. All we know is that the Lord chose to heal our boy and we are immensely grateful.
At moments we all find ourselves in this place on our Christian journey. We live in a fallen world with sin, sickness, suffering and heartbreak around us. I hear from time to time some well-meaning person say, “God won’t give me more than I can handle.” While I understand the sentiment behind their statement based on 1 Cor. 10:13 (which speaks about God delivering us out of temptation and no temptation overtaking us), did you know the Bible never actually says He will not let us get in over our head? On the contrary, the Bible says in this world we will have trouble (Jn. 16:33) and that we will face troubles of many kinds (Jas 1:2). There are countless times when the writers of the Psalms were at the end of their rope. We will be in over our heads time and time again in this life and sometimes severely tested. The good news is the Lord also promises His presence and resources when we find ourselves cast like a sheep- flat on our backs.
He restores my soul.
King David wouldn’t have said this in Ps. 23 if there were not times when we were defeated, discouraged and ready to throw the towel in. The Lord restores us by bringing back our joy, hope and giving us the courage to face another day where we find His mercies are new (Lam. 3:23). This may not happen overnight but as we look to Him day by day, He bolsters what little faith we may have at the moment and grows it exponentially. While we have the hope of heaven, He has also promised hope for each and every day. No matter what you are facing today- if you know Jesus, you are never without an ever-present, alert Shepherd who stands ready to rescue you and put you back on your feet.
Next time you are flat on your back call out for the Good Shepherd. He longs to restore you.
For more reading on Ps. 23 I highly recommend A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. This little book is a gem.