Tag Archives: Psalm 23

A Model of Care

If, in response to yesterdays reading, we want a model of care – both of ourselves and others.  We are given a perfect example in this best known of Psalms.

God’s way to care is to stay with us wherever we go.

To allow us to rest, perhaps encourage us to – a worn out sheep will not complete the journey.  Do I take time to rest in peace and quiet?  To take time and rest with God? Or am I so busy rushing around, even for him, that I never time time to rest and allow him to restore my soul?

Lord, may I rest in you, let you feed me, heal me, restore me and equip me for the journey.

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God will lead me in the right paths.  However wrong or scary they feel to me, however much I doubt his wisdom, however much I would prefer life to be going in a different direction; somehow, can I hold tight to his hand and walk with him?  Can I trust him and allow him to lead me?  Or will I insist that I know better, try and take him my way or run off to follow my own path?

Lord, may I be brave enough to walk with you, trust enough to follow you, allow you to lead me and follow your way.

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There are valleys, deep and dark.  They hurt, they terrify me, I’d really rather not go that way.

Lord, help me to remember, that however dark the way, you walk with me, Holding tightly to me, knowing my fear, sharing it, in it with me, never leaving me alone.

Lord, may I cling to the safety of you, and allow you to guide me through.

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Thank you Lord for the good times.  The times of blessing, of joy, abundance, when my cup overflows.

May I not forget you in those times, but rejoice with you and thank you.  Thank you that I am a guest at your feast

Thank you Lord, that your kindness and love are with me every day – good, bad or indifferent; that you walk with me every step of my journey, however good and pleasant or difficult and arduous.  Thank you that I can trust in you – always.  Thank you

The Lord’s My Shepherd

Psalm 23  (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

23 You, Lord, are my shepherd.
    I will never be in need.
    You let me rest in fields
    of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
    and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
    and you lead me
    along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
    but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
    and your shepherd’s rod
    makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
    while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
    and you fill my cup
    until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
    each day of my life,
    and I will live forever
    in your house, Lord.

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Following the Shepherd

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I don’t know the way.

I like to think I do,
that I can get myself there,
chart my own waters,
make my own decisions,
know what is best

but

I am easily distracted
by something that looks interesting,
tasty,
shiny.
I like to walk on the wild side,
laugh in the face of danger,
challenge good advice.

I won’t fall down there.
Who says that’s not good for me?
But I just want to taste.

But you,
you Lord,
you know what I need
and you will lead me there
if only I am not so stubborn.

You know the green, lush fields,
the safe spaces,
the resting place
for me.

You watch me like a hawk,
ready to catch,
to water,
to lovingly tend and rescue me
yourself,
whatever the cost.

You love me
and walk with me
every day of my life,
every step I take,
you are there,
whether I see you or not.

However difficult,
desperate,
painful
things are

You,
you are there.

You walk with me.

Companionable,
Caring,
loving,
tending
God.

May I learn to hear your voice
and follow it
all the days of my life.

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Psalm 23 (CEV)

(A psalm by David.)

The Good Shepherd

23 You, Lord, are my shepherd.
    I will never be in need.
    You let me rest in fields
    of green grass.
You lead me to streams
of peaceful water,
    and you refresh my life.

You are true to your name,
    and you lead me
    along the right paths.
I may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
    but I won’t be afraid.
You are with me,
    and your shepherd’s rod
    makes me feel safe.

You treat me to a feast,
    while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
    and you fill my cup
    until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with me
    each day of my life,
    and I will live forever
    in your house, Lord.

John 10:11-18 (CEV)

11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

17 The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18 No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.

Caring for The Battered and Broken

This is part three.  Having looked at health, or lack of it, and healing; how can someone on the outside help?

Pastorally we have to be prepared to be alongside people as they go into their own desert.  People need to be able to pour out to someone the fears that they have buried deep, or that are bubbling near the surface.  Just sharing those feelings with someone can make them less frightening, as they are acknowledged.  People may be reluctant to express such deep personal feelings that pain and suffering bring.  One of the privileges in life is being the one someone feels they can ‘let go’ to.  Someone ‘putting on a brave face’, may just have no opportunity, or tools, to face or express their fears.  They may need some company, some care, some holding.

Norman Autton in his book, Pain – An Exploration, makes the  comment that children should always be given permission to feel pain.  Adults too, particularly sometimes christians, need to know that there is no need to be brave or ‘cope’.   Feeling the pain is the only way it can be let out for healing.

Denis Duncan in Health and Healing: A Ministry to Wholeness reminds us that christian pastoral care, including to ourselves, is the acceptance of people where they are, in order to take them to where God wants them to be ‘warts and all’.  This is very positive, except that we can never take them.  What we can do is accompany them as they make the journey there themselves.

What anyone offering care needs is sensitivity.  Such comments as, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ are not particularly helpful when it doesn’t feel it.  It may ultimately become true, but takes reconciling to the situation first. There will undoubtedly be some positives to come from the suffering, but that does not remove the pain of the struggle.  It can be too easy to produce platitudes that nothing can separate us from the love of God, or that there is glory waiting beyond the tears.  I firmly believe that

all things work together for good for those who love God  (Rom 8:28),

but at times of struggle it was the last thing I wanted to hear.  Not because I no longer believed it, but at that time I could not assimilate it into my experience.  To glibly quote scripture references can show total lack of empathy and can appear to belittle the problem.

If we can, however use the bible sensitively and positively, there are many verses that do offer hope and comfort.  For example, Isaiah 43:1-2, reminds us that God is with us in situations that threaten to consume and overwhelm us; Psalm 23 speaks of the Psalmist’s assurance that God is with him in the valleys; and for me Habakkuk 3:17-20 encapsulates the acceptance and ability to live with having no answers, but finding something in that, and still being able to cling on because of his trust in God, when everything else has disappeared.

We should not be afraid to say that we have no answers, there is more honesty in that than trying to grope for quick-fix solutions.  And honesty is the one thing that is appreciated.  Sometimes nothing more is needed than a being with.

And that is the point I come to.  If it sounds positive, it has come from a place of great pain. Only the answer has survived on paper – but the pain was deep and life-transforming.  Ask those who were around me then how many times I preached on being in the desert – because that is where I was and all I could do.  I’m not trying to put just a positive spin on it, but to try to share some of what I learned, and in sharing it all again, it has helped me with where I find myself again.  Healing and wholeness are ongoing.  Living with ongoing illness regularly throws up new discoveries and realities to be assimilated. As does life for each one of us.

I hope sharing this has helped someone.  If you’ve got any comments, please share them below for everyone to share in.

I’ll leave you with my conclusion, that sixteen years on and a few crises later, still, I think, holds true:

So for me, both personally, and as a basis for pastoral care, there has to be the offer of healing and wholeness, whatever the state of our mind and body.  It may not be healing as we would like it or recognise it, but that does not mean it is not.

I believe firmly, passionately and with experience that we can lay our pain with the one who took our pain upon himself, and receive Life in its true fullness.  If we do not believe that what else have we to offer to a hurting world?

And so I return to my very practical definition of healing:

accepting all that we are, and all that we will never be, incorporating that into ‘me’ – and being able to live with it.