Wait! Did I Take A Wrong Turn?
By Dot Bowen
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. Psalm 23:4-5 (NIV)
The words of Psalm 23 are very comforting. The image of sheep grazing on green pastures and sitting by quiet waters can calm any soul. Each of us longs for life to be peaceful, however, it doesn’t take much for us to go from peaceful green pastures to fear. In a split second our lives can change—a negative medical report, the death of a loved one, a friend fighting for her life, or a broken relationship—and cause us to move into the fear of the unknown.
It’s human nature to fear and question the protection of our Good Shepherd. I believe this is why Psalm 23 brings such comfort in the face of adversity. David’s life was full of difficulties because of his own decisions as well as the actions of people who were jealous and hated him without cause. When faced with adversity, it may feel unnatural to acknowledge our Good Shepherd may have led us to the difficult situation. We may find ourselves asking, Wait! Did I Take A Wrong Turn? How did I end up here? But if we believe God is our Good Shepherd, and He is in control, we must accept that either God led us to the adversity or allowed us to go there. I have heard TV evangelists proclaim, If you have Jesus, your life should be without adversity because God wants you happy! The TRUTH is Jesus promised we would have tribulation in this world. Can I hear an AMEN?! If there is one thing a follower of Christ—or anyone, for that matter—will have, it’s tribulation.
When David penned Psalm 23, he was well aware of the dangers around him; His own son Absalom was trying to kill him. David had peace in the midst of his adversity because he had faith that God would never leave him. He knew he would never face anything without the love and power of his God. God never left David, and God will never leave us. Whatever we go through—whether enjoying a time of peace, or time of adversity— Psalm 23:4-5 reminds us God is with us. David was quick to acknowledge his protection came from God’s rod and staff, not his own. God’s power is manifested when we face adversity with the calm assurance knowing no matter what happens or who wants to hurt us, God will provide our escape. Trusting God for our escape does not mean we won’t experience adversity. Trusting God for our escape means when we face adversity, the adversity doesn’t control us because we trust God to either provide a way out or peace within the adversity.
Psalm 23 assures us that God’s rod and staff will lead us through tough times and provide an indescribable, supernatural peace. I’ve seen my children experience situations I thought would destroy them. But God allowed the very things I thought would destroy them to be the very thing that made them stronger. I have also had the privilege of walking with moms who had to say goodbye to a child fighting cancer. I have truly seen the presence and power of God come over these precious parents and allow them to continue living without their child. If there is any comfort in Psalm 23, it is that God doesn’t walk away when bad things happen, rather He leads us through the bad things.
Not long ago my only hope to get through each day came from believing this too shall pass. I didn’t know how God was going to carry me through a long, difficult year, but He did. His rod and His staff protected and comforted me. I’m confident God protects me whether I am having a good day or a bad day. In this life, we will face enemies and danger, but we will never face trials alone or in our own strength! God’s power is so evident when I acknowledge He is walking with me through the fire of adversity! And when I rely on God to get me through the fire, I never come out smelling like smoke!
Further Reading Psalm 23; John 16:33; Daniel 3:20-30