April 12th Devotion

Trusting the Good Shepherd
Jessica Van Roekel

“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.” Psalm 23:1-3

The other day I found myself in a tailspin of negative thoughts. Nothing I had was enough, nothing I did was sufficient, and everything I did was a failure. I know the truth—that God is enough, that he is sufficient, and that he is my success, but I struggled to believe it. I tend to compare myself to others, which leads to discontent and discouragement. I look at someone’s strengths and compare them to my weaknesses. Maybe they look the way I wish I looked. Or their family discussions are rich and varied. And maybe they have the success in ministry that I want.

Comparing myself to others is like a sheep looking with longing at another field and missing the bounty of the field its shepherd brought her to. Life circumstances don’t have to be devastating to lead us away from our Shepherd, but they do reveal our belief system. At times what we believe in our heart does not match what we say and think. I can trust the Good Shepherd because he is my shepherd, but sometimes I don’t act like it, especially when I fall into the comparison trap. When we begin to compare, we begin to shepherd ourselves, telling the Good Shepherd he can take a back seat because it’s our hand on the wheel and foot on the gas. But shepherding ourselves leads to our needing rescue. Will we allow ourselves to be rescued or will we continue to run away from him?

In Psalm 23, David compares God to a shepherd to create a picture in our mind of God’s great love and care for us. Jesus uses the same metaphor in John 10 to reveal a similar picture. The depth of God’s love causes him to provide, protect, and guide his children. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our beautiful picture of how far God goes to guide us to him. “To not want” means we will have everything we need to accomplish God’s purpose in our lives whether that’s parenting our children, providing for our family, or serving in our church. It also means we can be content with how God cares and provides for us even in times of hardship because we can trust his love and commitment to us. He is our shepherd and we do not need to want anything more.

Fear rages rampant in our world and can steal our peace. When we live with a heightened awareness of what might go wrong or what has gone wrong, rest can feel impossible. Yet, the Good Shepherd makes us lie down and comforts us with his nearness. Fear may spread around us, but we can be at rest because of the promised presence of the Holy Spirit. Even during life storms, we can have peace, life, and refreshment, not because of our own willpower, but because of a surrendered heart to the Shepherd.

Discouragement sets in when we compare our story with someone else’s story. We look at our life through a “why not me?” viewfinder and wonder why we can’t have their storybook life. Yet, God promises restoration for the broken heart. He revives and re-energizes our souls through his power and goodness. We follow him and he leads. If that seems to lead us where we do not want to go, we can trust God to fulfill his perfect purpose in our lives because he has our good in mind for his glory. Our life is his story for his glory. This viewfinder leads us to greater trust in his heart for us.

Intersecting Life and Faith:
It’s tempting to look across someone else’s life and wish we could have what they have. We press against the boundaries in our lives, walking as far from our Shepherd as we can because we are not content with where he’s placed us. Comparison and jealousy toward others rise within us. Doubt in God’s goodness takes root in our hearts. Yet, our Good Shepherd, Jesus, calls our name. He calls us to turn and look at him. He calls us to draw near and see the goodness he has for us in our lives as they are. He is worthy of your trust. He won’t lead you where he won’t go with you, and he has refreshment waiting for you when you draw near to him.
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