Psalm 23 says,
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
We don’t know when this Psalm was written, but some believe David may have penned it on the run – perhaps while being pursued by his son Absalom.
That sounds about right to me. We don’t usually come to know and trust the Lord like this without some kind of trial preceding it.
Singing worship songs, studying Scripture, being in community, serving others – they’re all great.
But if you really want to know the Lord in a deeper way, wait until the shit hits the fan. Because that’s when we discover where our really faith lies and who/what we really trust.
Most of us try to avoid hardship, and I’m not suggesting we seek it.
But I’ve found that the most spiritually formative times in my life have tended to be prompted by pain and struggle, not comfort and complacency.
Perhaps you’ve noticed this in your own life too.
So in a sense, I’m thankful for the darkest valleys, the deepest betrayals, the times of greatest need, and the most persistent enemies.
Because things like these have a way of driving us to our knees, inviting us to know the Lord not just as the Good Shepherd, but as our Good Shepherd.