By Elaine Knudtson
“Restore Me” by John Biggs and Jason Ingram
The Messiah as Shepherd
In the midst of the challenges of life, God offers us comfort and forgiveness. Our shepherd carries us during our most vulnerable times. He understands that true healing begins when we allow Him to renew us so that we can soar above our circumstances like an eagle.
Dear Lord, we are often troubled and weary in this life. We look to you to lead the way and renew us. We accept the promise: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. . . Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” Isa. 43:1-4
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matt. 18:12-14
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. . . He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young. . . Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isa. 40:1-2, 11, 28-31
It is commonly held that this portion of Isaiah was written during the Babylonian captivity. Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple plundered, the people scattered, and a remnant taken to Babylon as captives and slaves. Not again. They had been led out of Egypt into the promised land and for generations they had believed that God would establish the throne of David forever. At this point in the story, it all seemed impossible. Where was God? Had He forgotten his people? Why was this happening? Hope was gone.
In the midst of our darkest moments, God is often carrying us, “As a shepherd gathers the lambs in his arms.” We need renewal when we walk through the “valley of the shadow of death”. Faith is believing that when we come out on the other side, He will have prepared a feast for us. It is the eternal story of death and resurrection; Good Friday and Easter morning; captivity and release. These times will certainly come. Jesus himself experienced them, but the moment he cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was carrying us on His shoulders, through the fire, through the water, through hopelessness, to victoryon the other side.
Points to Ponder
- When have you experienced a sense of hopelessness? Looking back, can you see how God lead you through that time?
- Can you remember a time when you had a sense of being “carried” when your own strength was gone? What does that teach you about God’s love.
- Even when we don’t see a “happy ending”, living by faith means that we trust God still loves us. Does that make a difference?
O Lord we depend on you to carry us through the dark times when we dare not even hope for a good outcome. Renew us in spite of our circumstances and let us see your love shine through. We need your comfort.