Tag Archives: comfort

Our Shepherd

He guides me along right paths,
bringing honour to his name.
Psalm 23:3b, NLT*

Psalm 23 is probably the best-known psalm, and it’s such a comfort, whether we’re in the green meadows or in the narrow valley of the shadow.

Our Shepherd is with us, resourceful to nourish us, powerful to defend and rescue, wise in His leading and rewarding us for following.

We can get to thinking it’s all about us, and there’s a lot of “us” in the message.

Today’s verse reminds me of the bigger picture: the psalm—and life—is about revealing the character and nature of our Shepherd. It’s about Him.

Thank You, God, for the care You give us. You provide, protect, guide and reward. The way You treat us reveals more about You than about us. You are the Holy One, worthy of all honour and praise. Help us follow obediently, not just to stay safe but to give You glory.

Our song this week is the traditional Irish hymn, “The King of Love My Saviour Is,” sung here from the Maranatha Celtic Hymns recording.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Need Some Comfort?

butterfly

Some days we just need a bit of comfort. Here are some posts I’ve read lately that can help:

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts offers us perspective for those times When You Forget that God is For You.

They Will Be Comforted at (in)Courage

At Morning Glory, Nan Trammell Jones affirms the certainty of God’s care in our lives.

Mary DeMuth’s prayer that will change your life may be anything but comforting, but it will put your spirit into a better position to receive long-term comfort.

Words of Comfort

butterflyI’ve been collecting words of comfort from writers I respect. Here are a few:

At Other Food: Daily Devos, Violet Nesdoly asks “Have you ever thought of your griefs and disappointments as seed?

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts offers insight for “When Words Fail.”

At (in)courage, Lysa TerKeurst reminds us “Don’t Despise the Small.”

At Meet Me in the Meadow, Roy Lessin reminds us that “Peace is Yours.”

And Mary De Muth reassures us that “God Sees When You Feel Small.”

Bonus link added after the original post: Paula Vince’s “To Get Rid of the Reproach of Egypt.”

Five Words that Bring Security

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
Psalm 23:1, NLT*

I’ve been working hard to apply the first part of this verse to my life, to get it deeply rooted and to let it change me. I believe it’s true, but life’s stresses have a way of seeming to weaken or disprove that truth.

The Lord is my shepherd.

Which Lord? The Lord. The one and only.

The Lord is my shepherd.

Who is my shepherd? The Lord. The almighty God of the universe.

The Lord is my shepherd.

There’s no room for doubt. He really is my shepherd. It’s fact.

The Lord is my shepherd.

Whose shepherd? Mine. Ours. His care is personal and individual.

The Lord is my shepherd.

He’s what? Our shepherd. Our good Shepherd. We have a basic understanding of a shepherd’s responsibilities. God has committed Himself to our care, and by His nature He will surpass our human definition.

I have a good shepherd.

I’ve been saying it a lot, reminding myself of the truth and putting my focus back on God and away from the stresses or negative feelings that swell when watched.

I say it when I’m happy. And when I’m sad, or anxious, or feeling spiritually heavy or alone. It won’t let me stay in self-pity or apathy or a sense of lack.

It works with other people too. If I’m concerned about someone, or if they’ve hurt me, there’s reassurance in whispering “The Lord is his/her shepherd too.”

God who is our Good Shepherd, forgive us for giving more weight to our feelings and circumstances than to Your word. Remind us of who You are, and anchor our spirits in Yourself. Thank You for Your grace and care, and help us to live by faith.

Here’s Peter Furler’s adaptation of Psalm 23. Not how King David would have played it, but I love it.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God is Near

Everybody does stupid things. This spring one of my sons took his turn at it, and in early June he had a meeting to sort out the consequences. My husband and I went with him for moral support.

It meant an early start and a two-hour road trip. I knew people were praying, and I was too. Before we left, I wanted at least a few still moments with the Lord. It had been a busy week. I felt stretched, but not quite to the point of breaking, and at peace with God in the midst of all the activity and the uncertainty of what this day would bring.

With only minutes to spare before heading out the door, I squeezed in a short prayer time and then opened my Bible. The psalm of the day was Psalm 139. To me, that’s this son’s psalm.

His psalm, right before his big meeting. A reminder of God’s presence.

Even though I hadn’t been consciously tense, I felt myself relax in His care, His nearness. His provision.

I believe God is always with me—Jesus promised it—so why is it so hard to really live that way? Why do I still need reminders? Shouldn’t I be able to simply stop, breathe, and know He’s here?

For now I still need reminders, and I’m thankful for this one.

A Jesus Prayer Day

When [blind Bartimaeus] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Mark 10:47-48, NIV*

Into the middle of busy schedules and global crises, Monday brought the news that a young boy in our community had taken his life. He was maybe 15, 16?

How do you pray for something like this? There are words: “comfort the family, send them caring support, help his friends….”

I did some of that, but the need just felt too big. But I remembered reading about the Jesus Prayer in an online-only bonus article in Faith Today.

The NIV has eight references to a people crying out variations of “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”  Trusting that the Holy Spirit intercedes when we don’t know how to pray, I gave Him the burden by repeating “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.” Mercy toward family, friends, He knew best.

The peace surprised me, but it shouldn’t. I’d stopped trying to carry—and fix—the problem, and given it to the Master Healer and Builder.

Today I found two excellent links on the history and effectiveness of the Jesus Prayer at the Orthodox Prayer and Concentric Net sites.

The exact wording of the Jesus Prayer is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It’s meant for more than forgiveness, for any kind of need. The “sinner” part is to remind us how powerless we are to help ourselves.

With all that’s going on in the world, near and far, we’re pretty helpless. Item 24 in my new gratitude journal is “Thank You for giving me the Jesus Prayer for when I’d need it.”

And thank You for Your great mercy, poured out in our lives. Open the grieving to receive it. Open us all to see our need of it. And I praise and thank You, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, that You don’t leave us as orphans in this world. That You care, and that You give the peace of Christ.

A song that comforts me in hurt is from the group Fee: “The Arms that Hold the Universe”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

How do we deal with suffering?

The other week on the Canadian Authors Who are Christian blog, Canadian singer/songwriter and writer Carolyn Arends wrote:

I recently asked friends online what words and actions had been the least helpful in trying times, and I got a passionate and prolific response. I recognized many of the platitudes listed as things that had come out of my mouth.

If you read her full post, “Allow for Space in the Music: Acknowledging the mystery of pain,” I think you’ll be encouraged and better equipped to offer comfort. If nobody around you is hurting today, someone may be tomorrow. And if you’re hurting today, this may be something you can share with your friends to help them know how to not make it worse.

Knowing God’s Nearness Today

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24, NIV*

As I prayed for a friend who has serious health trouble, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to ask the Father to reassure her that He’d be with her whatever the future brings, but also that she’d know His nearness today.

We all long for some kind of reassurance for the future – specifically that things will be fine – but God asks us to focus on today. That’s the whole “living in the moment” thing I’m still trying to learn.

Definitely, we need a solid faith that God knows what lies ahead and can deal with it, but we’re not in the future. We’re in the present. And as Jesus said, today has enough troubles of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

Father, I’m so thankful that You know what tomorrow holds. Nothing will catch You off guard. Help me to trust the future to You and to live in the present – knowing You’re with me. Open my eyes to what you want to do through me today, who You want to touch. Help me enjoy Your company on the journey.

This week’s song is the classic “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” sung here by the group Selah.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Remembering God is Near

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7, NIV*

Crowded, busy and stressed. That’s the short summary of the past week or so. It hasn’t been all bad, just full. When I was at my most tired, and anxiety hovered like those cartoon rain clouds, I kept reminding myself “God is near.”

He so knew I’d need this promise when He brought it to mind a month ago. Isn’t He good to us?

I’ve taken a lot of comfort and strength from knowing God is near, but that’s made me stop and think. He’s near in the good times too. The hard times press us closer to Him, but in the good times we’re in danger of forgetting Him.

He wants us to notice His presence and to delight in being with Him.

In his book, Hidden in Plain Sight, Mark Buchanan calls us to treasure our faith – to spend time with others who treasure theirs, and to beware the danger of sapping our faith through keeping bad company.

Circumstances may do the opposite: good, easy times may sap our faith more than the hard times that force us to cling to God.

Precious Father, thank You for promising to never leave us. Thank You for the privilege of abiding with You. Please teach us to delight in Your nearness just because of who You are regardless of our circumstances or need of comfort. How wonderful is each moment spent aware of Your presence.

A song that’s meant a lot to me this past month or more is “Give Me Jesus,” sung by Robin Mark.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

I Do Believe

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not … if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:17,18, 22b-24, NIV*

We’ve been talking about Philippians 4 and thanksgiving vs. anxiety for a few weeks now, and the irony is not lost on me: Today started with a sense of restless urgency, and my prayers kept circling back to someone for whom I care deeply.

I reminded myself to pray with petition and thanksgiving, to trust God’s care. Several times. Somewhere in the cloud of nervous energy He helped me realize something: today’s issue isn’t about my loved one, it’s about me.

Is there an immediate problem or danger? No, although I sense trouble in the offing. Does God need to do anything about it this second? No, although I believe He has a plan and a timetable for action, and has been calling people to pray.

So where’s the trouble? It’s me, fretting. Not letting go as I pray. Not being confident in God’s ability to work all things to His glory and His children’s good.

This always brings me back to Mark’s story of the man and his son, as I echo the man’s words: “I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Jesus, help me believe You. You haven’t given me any specific word about this particular need, but I have plenty of truth in Your Word to cling to. You have already won the battle, and all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to You. Thank You for the peace You give when I finally stop long enough to remember Who You are. Thank You for what You will do, in the Father’s perfect timing and wisdom. Thank You for caring about me and my loved ones today.

I’m so thankful for Scripture, and for music which reminds me of God’s truth. A song that spoke peace to my spirit just now is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Yours.” Take time to let the words sink in….

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.