Psa 23:1-6 NASB - "1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 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 have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
This Psalm is filled with memories in my mind. My mother read it every day before she went to work. I remember reading it for the first time at seven years of age and thinking “why would I not want the Lord to be my shepherd”. It would also be a significant focus during the illness of my wife that lead to her death.
As I mused upon this I combined it with the “Jesus Prayer” as I struggled with my wife’s illness and her eventual death. The prayer that came out of me was:
"Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. Remember we are but dust and so very frail, Good Shepherd come and lead us through this dark travail. Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner."
This psalm admits that we will be led into the very “shadow of death” yet we are not to fear because the Good Shepherd is with us. Death has been defeated ultimately by the Shepherd Jesus. So we are called to not fear but trust that in the end goodness and loving kindness will be with us forever.
So as we go through this process of suffering loss, enduring the pain of grief, and wondering how to think about the LORD in the midst of all this confusion, one of the answers that is given. Remember, HE is the good shepherd.
Good Shepherd, I neve thought we would be in this place as we followed you. It was beyond my understanding of life at the beginning of this journey that life could be filled with so much sadness, loss, and grief. I was naive about the struggles that can be found “East of Eden."