Forge forward in hope, faith, and love and find a new way of living.
I love Psalm 23 has been such strength since I came to faith in Christ well over 30 years ago.
The Psalm is commonly believed to be just about death; however, it’s a lot more than just a cute funeral poem. Although the context is often misunderstood, I use the Psalm as a template for coping with everyday problems.
Psalm 23 is a metaphoric story of our journey through life and a guide to comfort and strengthen us in our dark valleys. This wonderful Psalm assures us that God is our friend who is shepherding us through our pain. In the middle of suffering, God promises to be always there.
David wrote this Psalm, which appears to be his own personal experience of God as his Shepherd. He declares that God provides, and he paints a beautiful picture of the excellent care that God gives amid suffering.
When David was a shepherd, his job was to look after the pregnant ewes (Ps 78:70,71). He knew first-hand of the care and tender warmth of a good shepherd towards his flock. One day David risked his life to rescue a lamb, illustrating God’s respect for every individual.
Jesus Christ, our Saviour, seems to refer to this when He says, ‘I am the shepherd of the sheep the good shepherd’ John 10:11. We know the familiar story of when Jesus left the ninety-nine sheep to search for that lost one. A good shepherd guides his sheep into the fold and then cares, protects, and provides for them because they are his. The sheep knows Shepherd’s voice, and they follow him.
When looking into Psalm 23 to use at a funeral that I was leading, I noticed that the process of going through the valley is like journeying through grief. Since then, I often refer to it at funeral serves and worship meetings, and at times, people say they feel really helped.
I really like and appreciate this Psalm because it allows us to understand how much God loves us. Father God is omnipresent, which means God is present everywhere at once. This is possible through the work of the Holy Trinity.
I have never been rich; however, I have lacked nothing from the time I committed my life to Christ, even during the dark valley of grief. In the middle of grieving, God has enabled me to lie down in green pastures, not striving or worrying, but lying down, chilling out in the greenness of God’s love.
Often, I feel his guidance, albeit a still small voice, impression, or wise advice. Even though I have often strayed from the designated path, as we all do from time to time, I have been gently guided back. Sometimes I have been returned kicking and screaming, realising much later that the momentary discipline from God saved me. Through it all, God is there. You may feel in despair right now, but don’t worry; you will come through this because your Shepherd is walking with you through all the grief and pain.
Each of us has a choice, to either deal with bereavement and the grief it brings, or crawl under a rock somewhere and hide from it, and even worse, we could pretend it is not there.
I read psychology and counselling at the University of Derby, UK, on a master’s level. It was an excellent course because I became better equipped to help those I ministered to and counselled. The spin-off was that it helped me in my personal life immensely. It was one of the ways God restored and healed me from past emotional trauma.
Through the course, I experienced many cathartic moments- green pastures. I must admit that I have no unique gifts on walking through grief, but I have God in Christ. I give thanks from the depths of my being because Creator God has held my hand all the way and guided me through that dark valley, showing me how to live in it, emerging victorious. As I sojourned with God through the darkness, I had peace in my heart because I knew that God was with me. And you know what? God is with you as well and can bring you through the darkest of valleys.
I discovered that God heals is not the way I would expect; his ways are higher than ours. God did not just magically wave the sorrow away as if it did not exist. He did not rescue me from it but taught me how to get through it, and to journey through the valley. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him (Psalm 18.30). But, Gods ways are certainly a lot different from ours.
Father God taught me how to say goodbye to many relationships and people in all circumstances. Eventually, I learned how to grieve appropriately, how to move on. I do not boast that I have cracked it because each situation is unique.
Each experience of grief is different from your previous experience. I am sure there will be new challenges ahead and victories to be won. So, let’s forge forward in hope, faith, and love and find a new way of living, a new normal.
What method do you use to manage your grief? Let me know, and I would love to hear from you in our comments section below.
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