Friday, May 2, 2008

Trying Not to Despair

Today as I deal with an unbelievable amount of pain and fatigue, as well as sickness, sleeplessness, dizziness, and a weird jittery-ness, I am reminded of God's amazing faithfulness.

Despite the dark and difficult times, God has always shown himself faithful and true. I am frustrated and feeling alienated, but God reminds me he's my friend. I am exhausted and depleted, but God reminds me he's my strength. I am desperate and lost, but God reminds me he's my guide. I am compulsively eating and filled with anxiety, but God reminds me he's all I need.

It's during these times when I'm at my weakest and lowest that I often fight bitterness, anger, resentment, denial, and fear. But today I'm fighting hard against those things and struggling to get my head above water to where I can feel and see clearly God's grace and mercy raining down on me.

Today I was encouraged as I read this article, written by my pastor. Please read it and be encouraged as well, loved ones.

Your Rod and Your Staff Comfort Me
by James MacDonald

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . . Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:1,4

Hidden in the last phrase of Psalm 23:4 is the assurance that when the Lord is your shepherd, you are safe and secure: “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

A shepherd would be lost without two instruments: the rod, which is a tool of protection, and his staff, a tool of correction.

The word, rod literally can be translated “club.” A shepherd carries this tool to guard his sheep. The rod was a long piece of wood with a metal tip and sometimes metal studs driven through it. If a dangerous animal got near his flock, the shepherd would wield his rod and drive it away. This is a picture of God’s care and protection as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Nothing is allowed in your life but that Almighty God has permitted it. Nothing you are experiencing is without His permission. God says, “We will let her go through that. She will draw down upon My strength and experience My love and goodness. Yes, allow that.” He’ll also say, “No, no. Don’t allow that. That will overwhelm him. He is not ready for that.” That is His protecting rod.

The shepherd also has another tool, the staff. The staff is that crooked, wooden thing you always see in a shepherd’s hands in the Christmas play. A shepherd will use that tool to get his sheep back on the right path. What are you doing over there? Get back over here. Back on the path! Has God had to do that to you sometimes? This is His correcting influence.

Protecting is safety. Correcting is security.

As hard as it is to have God correcting us, instructing us, and setting us straight, Hebrews 12 says that correction is proof of the Lord’s love (see vv.5-11). If you are without correction, then you don’t even know the Father. You are not one of His children.

There is something incredibly secure in knowing that the Lord loves you enough to keep at you. I grew up in a home where my dad had some things to say. And he had some ways of following through big-time if I didn’t listen to what he was saying. While that wasn’t always the happiest situation, it was security for me.

“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” is a message of safety and security. The Lord’s correction and protection is proof of His love.

(c) 2008, Walk in the Word,

No comments: