I have long thought that the interventions needed to help our son manage mental illness are the same kinds of care I need to maintain my own good emotional health. God thinks so too, because in Psalm 23 He describes the ways He takes care of all of His people, even me.
The LORD is my shepherd: The One who is-all powerful, all-knowing, all-loving is watching over my life. I am not in charge, neither am I alone. I can entrust my loved one and myself to His care.
I shall not want: The good Shepherd will supply all my needs. He will not withhold from me what would be good for me. The timing of His answer is just as much a part of His care as the provision.
He makes me lie down in green pastures: Like a mother who knows her toddler is tired long before the child does, my tender Shepherd beckons me to rest. His peace is mine for the taking. He is ever-watchful. He never slumbers nor sleeps. When I am able to lie down, I can be sure He is taking care of all that concerns me.
He leads me beside still waters: As I follow my kind Shepherd, He takes my thoughts to places that nourish my desires and quench the longings of my heart. He carries me to the living waters of His love to bring continual healing and hope.
He restores my soul: My compassionate Shepherd knows every shard of my broken heart and patiently repairs each piece. He comforts me in the deepest places where the losses have taken their toll and the despair is so great.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake: When I feel lost or confused, my wise Shepherd knows what I should do next. His Holy Spirit helps me make decisions that will guide me out of the fog of uncertainty and places me where I can be confident I am walking in His will.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: In the darkest moments when my fears overwhelm me and there is no glimpse of hope, I can grab hold of my merciful Shepherd who is ever-present. And though I cannot see the way through the pain, He has already set out the path and walks with me, step by step, to the other side.
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me: Through His Spirit and His Word, my attentive Shepherd helps to steady me along the way. He nudges me toward new approaches and methods to help me navigate the uneven terrain. He reframes my thinking so I can get unstuck from patterns that are unhelpful.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: Even in the midst of the battle, when my problems and worries are mounting around me, my mighty Shepherd assures me that He has overcome them all. Then He invites me to break bread with Him, to fellowship with Him, to enjoy Him. He reminds me that I am always welcome at His refreshing table.
You anoint my head with oil: Having provided for me, and given me rest and nourishment, guidance, assurance, safety and fellowship, my loving Shepherd covers me with His gladness. My heart is now readied to receive His gift of joy—a delight that is not dependent on my circumstances, but is evidence of His presence.
My cup overflows: My generous Shepherd gives and gives and gives. In fact, He provides so much more than enough that I have plenty to share with others. He fills me up and with the overflow I am equipped to carry the assurance of His love and compassion to those who, like me, need to be reminded daily of the God-Shepherd’s care for His people.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: Not only does my gracious Shepherd lead me, His goodness and mercy follow me. I am surrounded by Him on every side. I cannot fall out of His presence. I cannot wander away from His sight. I cannot stray outside of His hearing. His love encircles and encloses me—all the days of my life.
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever: Beyond the cares of this day, past the trials of this world, ahead of the chaos of this life, my eternal Shepherd has gone before to prepare a place of perfect peace for me. It is there I will stop wandering and start dwelling. My nomadic heart will find its true home and settle down forever with my perfect caregiver.
Psalms 23:1-6 ESV
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