Are you there God? Have you ever asked that question? I completely understand. We’re sensory creatures. We need to see and hear and touch in order to believe in the presence of something or someone. Faith is such a stretch at times, especially when it’s being tested by trials and temptations. I’m not going to be naive and just tell you to have more faith when the going gets tough. That’s easier said than done. What I am going to do is have you walk with me through one of the best biblical passages for those days when you’re wondering where God is.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely Goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
- “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Not living in an agrarian society anymore, it’s hard to wrap our minds around the idea of a shepherd and his sheep. It’s an intimate portrayal of our relationship to God that the first century Jews would easily understand. Our Lord is there for us, watching over us daily. Even when we don’t feel his immediate presence, we are being watched over by our loving and protective shepherd.
- “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Again, not living in a dry, desert environment, it’s hard for us to comprehend how comforting these words are to the early Jewish believer. Just imagine a beautiful pasture filled with wild flowers, a soft, trickling stream flowing nearby. This is what God does for our souls. Amidst all our worldly turmoil, he brings us into his presence and gives us a state of calm and comfortable assurance that we are his.
- “He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God’s wish for us is that we lead holy, righteous lives that bring him glory. But he doesn’t just leave us on our own. He guides and instructs us through his word and Spirit so that we have everything we need.
- “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.” It’s vital that we realize that we will go through life’s valleys at times. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from facing difficulty. Some of those situations are happenstance and some are self-induced. Like a shepherd uses his staff to corral his sheep and keep them close, God admonishes us to remain close to him.
- “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” If you are letting your light shine in today’s ungodly society, you’re bound to make enemies with the world. First realize, those people are enemies of God, not you. No matter what persecution you face, God will see to it that you receive your reward and those who commit evil will receive judgment.
- “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” In days of old, the King was anointed with oil to signify being chosen by God for that important position. God anoints us along with his son Jesus as heirs to the riches of his kingdom. Our cup truly does overflow.
- “Surly goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” We do not have a Lord who keeps us at a distance. In fact, he doesn’t just take care of us as a shepherd does his sheep, but he invites us in to live with him as well. His riches are our riches. His glory becomes our glory. And the best part is, communion with our Lord never ends. It lasts for all of eternity.
Are you there God? Well, according to Psalm 23 and the rest of God’s word, he is most definitely there. And he loves you and me very much.