Even when it doesn’t feel like it, the shepherd’s protection always breaks through.
But that phone call that rocks your soul to its core. That doctor’s diagnosis that shatters your picture-perfect world. That moment when you feel like a hurricane has settled over you, stuck under the mighty force of its wind. It just seems to never stop whirling and swirling and throwing you around like a rag doll.
Times like this are the worst of all, I think. It is when you have hope deferred and see no sign of any change and you realize THIS might be all there is.
Is this it?
I have lived through this scenario more than once. I guess the keyword there is THROUGH. I have to remind myself that a storm will not remain forever, the pain will cease and life will be reborn. I DO believe that to be true, that life indeed goes on after the worst day or the worst season of your life. I DO know it is the truth.
First of all, getting through to the other side is hard. No, it is more than hard. It is like free-falling down the longest, darkest hole that you could ever imagine in your worst nightmare. People who have felt THIS sort of pain know exactly what I am talking about. It is when you literally feel broken or shattered into a thousand pieces. It is when you don’t recognize yourself and your own landscape is suddenly unfamiliar and threatening. It is like standing in front of a storm front that is headed straight for you, and there is nowhere to go or hide and when it is upon you, you are its captive.
Getting through the storm
David – Shepherd, writer, warrior, king.
David talked a lot about his soul being troubled. Troubled means: ” unsettled, hard, tough, difficult, stressful, anxious.” David the shepherd boy who would later be King, knew a lot about stress. I was wondering why. I mean, his typical days were spent tending sheep. They are a stubborn animal with the tendency to wander and they do what they want, but THIS was his reason to be so troubled and anxious? It had to be more.
There are 150 Psalms in which he cried out to God because he felt forsaken. Psalm 69:3 is absolutely a verse I can relate to: “I am exhaust from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.”
There have been times where I literally would try NOT to think about whatever it was I was going through (the really bad times..) because I couldn’t handle my own falling-apart anymore. I was tired. Literally, just tired. Tired of my own thoughts, words, tears, and tired of the storm beating down on my soul. I felt like I couldn’t even pray because it exhausted me to do THAT. I was sick and tired of crying out and asking for help. I was too tired to seek the shepherd’s help.
Feeling forsaken and broken.
The refreshing of the Lord
Psalm 22 is a Psalm where David talks about how he feels forsaken, wondering where God is and if He hears his groaning. He expresses how he feels like a worm, a reproach and someone despised. He says, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It has melted within me. (whoa) My strength is dried up like a potsherd (a broken piece of pottery) And my tongue clings to my jaws.” THIS is a true testament to depression and anxiety.
How David felt and how he expressed his anxiety maybe will resonate with some of us that have felt the same. For me, its that feeling of YES – THAT is exactly how I feel. It is very hard to put into words that level of despair. I am thankful David was a writer and chose to write his way through his troubles. Ironically, after his depressing woe-is-me Psalm 22, comes THE most infamous Psalm of them all. Psalm 23.
You know this Psalm – The shepherd’s love shows up in David’s relationship with God. He always ALWAYS come for the ONE forsaken sheep. It is the very nature of a shepherd. Verse 3 says, “He restored my soul.” Thank you, Jesus! “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”
You are NOT alone.
Wait. I want you to get this! It is those 4 words that will change everything about that hurricane you feel stuck under. HE IS WITH YOU. If you can get that and wrap your head around it, it will change everything. A shepherd does NOT leave his sheep alone. And if one is lost or stuck in a thicket, he will leave the other 99 to come rescue it.
For all the phone calls, losses and moments of pain we have each encountered; for all the sleepless nights and swollen eyes; for all the hope that seems never forthcoming – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Psalm 23:5 – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Why oil you say? How does THIS change anything?
The shepherd’s oil
I read a wonderful story online explaining something profound. To paraphrase it, it said when a sheep gets its head caught in a thicket or brier bush, there are nasty flies which will burrow in their heads. This causes MUCH anxiety to the sheep and they will beat their heads on rocks to the point they could die. (Sound much like us and our troubles and anxieties?) The reason a shepherd puts oil on their heads is to protect it. It protects their heads from the tormenting flies.
THIS! Do you see it? Do you get it? (Credit for this analogy to “We Believe In God”, on Facebook). Oil speaks of peace. You anoint my head with PEACE, so I can overcome the enemies of anxiety trying to attach to my mind and destroy me.
I recently was feeling the torment on my mind and heart. I am happy to report that the Shepherd’s love for me came and rescued me. My circumstance did not change, but I did. And THAT is everything.
The last verse of Psalm 23 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This is the result of our good Shepherd’s anointing oil.