“For you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
It is this simple statement that comforts us in times of trouble. It can empower us in times of weakness. It can ease our anxiety in times of fear and calm our souls as we face the unknown. Without our Shepherd we would be lost and filled with despair. His very presence gives us life and purpose. We are reassured that we are loved and that we belong and that we have a purpose. Thanks be to God for His presence with us!
Today in our Lenten journey we need to be reminded that it is the Cross that makes this wonderful fellowship possible. Yes! The Scripture tells us that before this radical rescue mission of God we were separated from our loving Father by our sins, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We were in the bondage to our sinful nature. Paul even tells us;
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins which you once walked, following the course of this world…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:1-5)
Did you see that? We were alone. We were literally at a dead end.
Two words that changed everything! The God who loves us would not accept this and walk away. Love does not leave. So, He took action! “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This is the act of a Good shepherd that loves His sheep. Luke 15 tells us that He will leave the 99 sheep to go find the lost one. It also tells us that He will turn the house upside down to find the one lost coin! God has spared nothing to make reconciliation possible. It is the message of the cross! It is the message of psalm 23…It is the message of the Bible as a whole!
Yet, how can this be? A God who would go to the cross on behalf of His creation? This is the very thing that calms our fears in the dark times. Not just the fact that He said He would always be with us…but the truth that He will do anything to make us into people of character…even if it means going through the valley of the shadow of death. In fact, the scripture never promises a free pass out of suffering and sorrow. It only reminds us of the presence of our loving Shepherd. The One who said He would never leave us or forsake us. This Shepherd does not run when the wolf comes. He stays and protects the sheep even if it requires sacrificing His own life…and, by the way…it did.
Maybe you are thinking…”Okay, we got it…God is with us.” If you believe that then you will live each day with a refreshing sense of purpose that allows you to rise above your circumstances and walk in His wondrous presence!
So, let me remind you, as we continue to journey through this Psalm,
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, for you are with me.”