“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
If I were writing my own life story, I would have written it differently.
I never would have had the courage to write my story with the twists and turns it has taken. I have walked through seasons of devastation beyond what I thought I could survive. But I have also been incredibly blessed and humbled as God has proven Himself faithful beyond my ability to comprehend.
Maybe you’re in the devastatingly dark middle of a season you didn’t choose. One that leaves you tempted to pull away from the Lord, wondering, How could a good God lead me to such a difficult place?
Oh, friend. I understand.
So did David, the shepherd who was destined to be king, who penned the words of many biblical psalms. David’s desperately honest cry in Psalm 22:1 reveals he was well acquainted with discouragement and despair: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (ESV).
But despite the agony and distress we find in Psalm 22, Psalm 23 reveals David still knew where his hope was found. This shepherd boy needed a greater Shepherd — the Lord. We do too.
So how do we keep choosing to follow our Shepherd when He leads us into valleys we’d rather avoid? We can begin by remembering these two truths about the Lord:
1) He will never lead us carelessly.
Psalm 23:1-3a paints such a serene picture: “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” (ESV).
We might imagine lush green hills like you’d find in Ireland, but David’s reality was the steep, rocky, dry Judean hills. Hills that had to be carefully traveled in order to get to the water and vegetation waiting in the valleys below.
Shepherds leading their flocks also had to be cautious about the timing of their trips. Hard rains could quickly lead to flash floods in a gorge. When a shepherd knew a storm was coming, he wouldn't allow the sheep to be down in the gorge because they’d drown; instead, he'd wait patiently until the storm passed to lead his flock down to drink. So not only did sheep have to trust where the shepherd was leading them; they had to trust the when of his leading.
Our Shepherd wants to get us to the still waters. He wants us to lie down and rest where it's safe. But we have to trust that His timing is perfect and His provision is good.
2) He will always lead us intentionally.
Psalm 23:3b says, “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (ESV).The very reputation of the Lord is at stake in His leading. That means we can trust He will always lead us in perfect ways — for our goodness and for the sake of His name.
The Hebrew word for “paths” in Psalm 23:3 referred to well worn or deep ruts that were actually good ruts, important because they marked the safest paths. While these paths could be formed by one shepherd over time, it's more likely they were formed by other shepherds who’d gone before — generations of shepherds wisely walking the same paths. Even today, you can literally look at the hills in Israel and see paths the shepherds have been walking for generations.
I wonder: What deep ruts or paths have you created in your life of regularly walking with God? What deep, positive places have others forged that you can follow? I encourage you to remind yourself of those paths, those regular rhythms of relationship with God.
If you’re in a low valley right now, I know what that looks and feels like. But let me speak life into your worn-out, broken-down, hurting heart. I’ve lived the horrors where I couldn't see any way out. But there’s always a way with God.
Stay close to Him. Stay close to people who love Him. And He will make a miraculous way. One that you couldn’t have imagined but one that is perfectly timed and planned.
Heavenly Father, even when my heart is hurting … even when I don’t understand what You’re doing or where You are leading me … I’m choosing to trust Your love for me. I’m choosing to follow Jesus, the Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. The One who willingly died for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
When it’s difficult to see where the Lord is leading us, one of the ways we can stay close to Him is by holding fast to the promises found in His Word. That’s what we long to help you do here at Proverbs 31 Ministries. Would you join us in these efforts by giving a donation today? Together, we can illuminate God’s goodness for a woman currently struggling to see it in her own life. Give now.
Find real-life encouragement when you connect with Lysa TerKeurst here on Instagram.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Hebrews 12:2, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” (NKJV).
What parts of your story from the past would you have written differently? How does knowing Jesus as “the author and finisher” comfort you as you look ahead to the future and trust in Him?
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2023 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
What We Believe
If your life feels too overwhelming, click here for our care and counseling resources.