This week has been agonizing. Media coverage of the tragic events that unraveled in Boston have left me overwhelmed with the amount of evil and suffering in the world.
Thankfully, the Scriptures are not silent when it comes to horrific suffering. The Bible offers not just a commentary on why evil occurs, but it also offers us the solution.
The solution is Jesus Christ – our Shepherd who knows first-hand the agony of evil. In fact, David foretells the terrible suffering of the Messiah in Ps. 22, and then in Ps. 23 he reveals to us the blessings we experience today while we wait for the Shepherd to come again and finish what he started.
Because He is my Shepherd:
- He provides my needs
- He provides me rest
- He leads me to safety
- He leads me to restoration
- He leads me to righteousness
Because He is my Shepherd:
- I have no reason to fear my circumstances
- My Shepherd won’t ever leave me
- He guides and direct me
- He keeps his promises to me
- He equips me for my calling
- He blesses me in life beyond anything I could hope for
- My life is hidden in him – always & forever
Throughout the Psalms, David repeatedly calls on the Lord to protect him and keep him safe. When he does so, he is not claiming that God will always keep his people from physical harm. Rather, David is claiming God’s promises to preserve his lineage (2 Sam. 7). Ps. 23 is a statement of hope in God’s promises to send an eternal King who would lead the people into the presence of the Lord forever.
This week, our nation experienced the ubiquitous and elusive nature of the myth of safety. Shortly after the twin bombings in Boston, Shepherd Press addresses the false security the myth of safety on their Facebook page. Their words were wise and comforting, so I’ll share them here (emphasis mine):
The Boston Marathon appears to be a positive, harmless event. But it became a target of terror, of the evil of the human heart. Yes, what happened in Boston is, at its core, an act of spiritual war. This is why terrorists care little for their own lives. They have believed the spiritual lie that the slaughter of innocents is a good thing and it is pleasing to their god.
Whether it is the act of a single, violent young man or the terrorism of religious zealots or the terrorism of nations vowing destruction to others, war and collateral damage is inevitable. In this sense, no one is safe. No event or activity is beyond the reach of spiritual evil. Don’t teach your children the myth that they are safe from danger. Teach them that true safety is found in believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. War, in all of its ugly forms, will rage on this planet until Christ returns. Some will suffer harm waging this war. Some will suffer harm as the targets of this war. Some will suffer harm fighting against those waging this war. (This is why we owe a debt of gratitude to first responders and our military.) No one is exempt. This is the truth that the media will never report. They have believed the myth that we are entitled to safety.
You cannot promise your children they will be safe from this ugly war. What you can promise is that God is faithful and will one day bring an end to every tear. Living for God is the only course that will bring peace and ultimately, safety.
As David concludes in this iconic passage: Because Christ keeps his promises to shepherd his people, our lives are hidden in his always and forever. Please join me as we pray for the families and citizens impacted by the events of this week and that they might be drawn to the safety of the Shepherd.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” Ps. 23:6
Looking for more on the Psalms? You can find the entire series here.
This is so good, Melissa. Thank you. These are such good words to savor. I would add to the myth of safety the myth of control. I think I tend to believe that although the world is dangerous, I can find ways to manage and control evil and suffering. That is where my hope so often lies–in a delusion that I can protect myself and my loved ones if I do this or that. But He is our Shepherd and He is sufficient.
Jessalyn Hutto says
Thanks Melissa, this is beautiful.