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 right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Today is All Souls Day when we think of all those who have died. It set me to thinking! Recently I have received a large number of prayer requests. Some are for families whose loved ones have died; others for those who are seriously ill themselves; and yet more for loved ones who are sick. I do my best to continue this work, though I don't find it easy especially when there seems no light at the end of the tunnel - those who ares sick just get worse, and there seems little hope for them - and the prayer requests for the families of the departed begin to increase. Instead of invitations to weddings we get invitations to funerals. At times like this any of us can feel upset and helpless.
Psalm 23 is a psalm we all know well, possibly because we sing the hymn 'The Lord's my Shepherd' at weddings and at funerals. But it can give us consolation and hope at times of sadness and emotional overload. For me, the knowledge that my Lord is there like a shepherd to lead me forward even into the dark places; that He gives me confidence to move forward into an uncertain future; that He can 'restore my soul' to a peaceful state whatever is happening; that He comforts me when I am troubled and sad; and ultimately that He offers me a permanent dwelling in His house, is absolutely what keeps me going. So I will remember those who have died, and continue to pray for their families, and for all who are sick, with confidence that God is always there for us, and that His plans will succeed.
Lord Jesus Christ,
when we face challenges,
when friends and family are suffering,
when life seems dark and stormy,
when there appears no light ahead,
and we have no answers or solutions,
then lead us by the hand into the future.
May the knowledge of Your presence beside us
give us peace and comfort
so that we can continue this day.
You might like to press the "Good Shepherd" tag at the top of this page to look at previous Thoughts on the same subject.
Alternatively, you could listen to Upper Clyde Parish Church singing (or sing with them!):
Singers, here is a completely different tune sung, with music, for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass!