Whether your journey leads through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, or just a deep, narrow valley of quotidian duties that never seem to change and never seem to end, God himself offers comfort.
When my season of caregiving began, I felt like a sheep—clueless and lacking direction. I hadn’t learned the language of cancer, and I had no idea what Pedro’s illness might require of me—I just knew that the way seemed dark and full of pitfalls, twists and turns.
I hate to admit it—since the Bible compares us to sheep all the time—but sheep are kind of dumb. In Montana, where temperatures can drop well below zero clear into March or April, shepherds shear the sheep right before lambing season so that the ewes will stay inside the warm barns rather than wander outside to have their babies.
You probably never considered that a rod and a staff could offer you any comfort. After all, those objects sound more like tools of discipline or weapons of war—and what comfort could they possible offer a burdened caregiver?
The rod and the staff in the hands of a shepherd provide comfort because the Shepherd uses them for the benefit of the sheep. (tweet this)
The rod, according to Phillip Keller in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, is an extension of a shepherd’s right arm. Its heavy knot on the end serves as a cudgel that the shepherd can throw at predators or use to hold obstacles out of the path of the sheep.
The shepherd carves his staff to serve the unique needs of the sheep. He uses it to lift wayward sheep who have fallen, or to draw a lamb close to its mother. It wouldn’t work on a cow or a duck or a donkey—or even a whole flock of sheep at once. It’s made to give comfort and succor to one sheep at a time.
And so with the heavenly rod and staff, the One who promises to comfort us will do the same (if not more) as an earthly shepherd. He’ll protect us from predators—help is a heartbeat away. He draws our weary souls close to his heart with his staff and offers comfort and strength for our journey.
Comfort—that’s what the Shepherd offers you today. Walk through your day filled with the courage and strength that comes from knowing the Shepherd stands ready to use his rod and his staff to comfort you.
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