Be Their Shepherd and Carry Them Forever
As many of you know, these last 10 days I’ve been holed up at home, mostly in bed, while millions of my white blood cells have been waging war against the COVID-19 virus that I contracted at some point two weeks ago. I definitely fit the “man-cold” stereotype (my wife will confirm), so I tried to be careful to not “milk” my sickness all week. To give you a picture, I took a walk with Emily on Thursday morning and could hardly stand the rest of the day afterward. That said, the reality is that it has just been little suffering, especially when I compare it to the present sufferings of many in our church body. There are plenty in our church body who are facing BIG suffering: cancer, auto immune diseases, mental health diseases, chronic pain, and all around failing bodies. If nothing else, having COVID this past week has produced a touchstone for me of the daily experience of many in our congregation.
In the midst of suffering, I believe there is no better place to turn to than the Psalms. The Psalms (and the Scriptures as a whole), in God’s grace, don’t glaze over big sufferings or little sufferings. They actually show that the commonplace experience of God’s people (and all people, for that matter) is the sin-saturated sorrow of suffering. Anyone who has read the Psalms of David knows that a large part of the development of David’s heart for God came through crying out to God in the middle of seasons of suffering. One particular stanza that has stuck out to me this week has been Psalm 28:8-9:
The Lord is the strength of His people,
He is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
It takes recognition that one has no strength in order to claim God’s strength for their own. David does this is verses 1-2. Then notice the medium by which David say’s God strengthens His people in verse 9 – He says that God carries them. The strength of God to be the saving refuge of His people is to literally carry them forever, not just to hold their hands while they wearily stand up out of bed. Why is this God’s medium of saving? So that we have no other props with which to prop up our hope in. God carries those whom he saves so that their hope utterly on Him, especially in the midst of suffering.
There are plenty who have no strength right now. Would you join me this moment in praying that God would supply them strength and carry them forever?
You are the saving refuge of your people. You are the shepherd who knows your sheep, with all of their infirmities, blemishes, and sorrows. You are the suffering servant who has felt their many pains and has the scars to prove it. We ask that you would carry those that are suffering in the midst of our congregation. We ask that you would be their strength, and that they would find their hope in nothing else. We ask that you would knock down anything else that the suffering may be propping up their hope in, so that their hope would be wholly in you. We ask that you would not let any of us waste our suffering – because we know it produces hope and is worthy of rejoicing in (Romans 5:3-4). Amen.