“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”Psalm 23:5
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I thought following Jesus would make my life easier?” I have to admit that I’ve probably thought that a few times. There are segments of Christianity that declare that “if you have enough faith that you will be successful” or that “God wants you to be prosperous.” This kind of thinking is not only dangerous to our personal faith, it is dangerous for the Church to believe this. Through the Scriptures, and especially the teachings of Jesus we are told that we will suffer, be persecuted, and instructed to “carry our cross.” The New Testament tells us less about “thriving” and more about “enduring” or “persevering.” Doesn’t exactly sound like American ideas of success and prosperity.
I have come to love the 23rd Psalm more and more. We’ve heard it so much that we can see it as trite or over stated. Perhaps we only associate it with funerals and we don’t see the importance the Psalm can play in our day-to-day living. In the Psalm, we see that the Lord our Shepherd provides everything the sheep needs AND leads us through the darkest valleys. Later, in verse 5, we are told that the Shepherd prepares “a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is both/and rather than either/or. God doesn’t just provide for us during the good times, God is walking beside us in Death Valley as well as providing for us while we are surrounded by enemies, trials, and testing. Just because we walk through dark times or find ourselves in a place of opposition or oppression does not mean that God is not providing for us. The Good Shepherd is with us all of the way.
When we go through difficult times in our lives we must remember that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, suffered and died for us. Jesus knows the way through the low points in life. Jesus knows how to persevere through times of opposition. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, shows us the way and leads us through the challenging times of life.
Are you following the Good Shepherd through the smooth season and the seasons that are difficult? The Shepherd provides in both when we follow.