The Promise of Provision - Part 2 of Walking Through Grief with the 23rd Psalm

Monday, July 6, 2015

the lord is my shepherd
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." Psalm 23:1 (NIV)

The death of a parent, spouse or child is nothing short of a catastrophic loss. On this side of eternity, death feels so final and so permanent. It changes everything forever and life will never and can never be the same. It seems as though you have lost everything and are so empty handed. In fact, it's as though part of you has also died.

It is when we experience such great loss that we encounter God in a dimension we never knew existed before. We are introduced to the Good Shepherd. David learned something when he stepped into his grief. He learned that at the moment we lose everything, God rises up to become everything we need. Grief has a way of incapacitating us to the point that we can't function. We can't think straight. We can't eat or sleep, or maybe we can't stop eating and sleep all day. We are unable to make even the smallest decisions. Panic sets in. We worry about how are we going to pay the bills. How will I ever survive? If you have ever lost a loved one I'm sure you can relate.

How in the world could David make a statement like this? How is it possible that I shall not be in want when I desperately need so much? Meet the shepherd! The supreme role of a shepherd is to provide for his sheep. He makes sure they have plenty of food and water. He protects them from danger. He makes sure they don't wander off and get separated from the flock. He nurses them back to health if they become sick or wounded. Without the shepherd they would surely die. They are utterly dependent upon him for everything.

Grief has a way of making us utterly helpless. We suddenly are in desperate need of someone to take care of us. We need a shepherd. In our times of great loss God becomes everything we need. When we have nothing, he becomes everything. When we are hopeless, he is our hope. When we are afraid, he is our protector. Everything we could ever need in our moment of desperation he becomes for us. That is how David could say with confidence that when the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He doesn't come to us with trite and empty words like "God must have wanted her more than you did so he took her home," or "He needed another angel up in heaven." He doesn't give us a three-point sermon on how the joy of the Lord is our strength or that we are too blessed to be depressed or too glad to be sad. He never tells us to "just get over it." He simply comes along side us and with tender-loving care, takes care of our needs. He becomes everything we don't have. He gives us what we can't give ourselves. He carries us when we can't take another step and gives us strength to make it through just one more day. That is what he does because he is our Shepherd.

Before your grief you may have known about the Shepherd but until you literally become a helpless and desperate sheep yourself, you will never truly know him the way David describes. In your grief you are introduced to your Great Shepherd. Through your great loss God becomes everything. And in the same way that you will never be the same without your loved one, you will never be the same now with your Shepherd. Just remember that God is not enough, He's more than enough! Hold on to God's promise in Philippians 4:19 where he says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He supplies according to his riches, not what we have, don't have, or use to have. That is our great hope in time of loss.
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