Dear Corpus Christi Family,
This Sunday, May 4, is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the mid-point of the Easter Season. The Fourth Sunday of Easter has traditionally been referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. Our responsorial psalm is one that many of us are familiar with, Psalm 23. The Psalm of the Good Shepherd. Perhaps the two most familiar passages in all sacred scripture are: John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” and Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd. Honestly, I am unable to think of a more apropos passage of scripture to reflect on during these days then the Psalm of the Good Shepherd.
I encourage you to spend 15 minutes a day for the next couple of days with only Psalm 23-I have included the entire Psalm as the end of this reflection-as your prayer text at the feet of the Lord in prayer. You will find comfort, protection and renewed strength. Remind yourself that God is with you, that he will never fail you, that you can count on him. Say these words, “God is with me, helping me.”
Before I share a brief reflection on Psalm 23, it is during times like these-with everything constantly changing around us-to hang on to truths that do not change. While we have experienced many changes to our world, our community, our very lives, we need to focus on what is unchanging not what is changing. What is unchanging is God’s eternal world. It is God’s unchanging word that is for us our “rock and salvation, our fortress; we shall never fall” (Psalm 62: 3).
Psalm 23 provides much needed hope for what we are experiencing. God reminds us of three powerful truths we can hang on to when we are afraid.
We are not alone!
God is walking through the valley with us. Verse 4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” Our world community is experiencing COVID-19, that is, we are all walking together through the valley, but there is one major difference between a believer and a non-believer. The difference is not the absence of the valley. Afterall, we all experience valleys throughout our lives. The difference is the presence of the Shepherd. Our focus is on the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Easter message is that we are not alone! Just as he accompanied the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he accompanies us.
God has a purpose for our problems.
Psalm 23 tells us over and over God works for our good. He:
- gives us everything we need, “there is nothing I lack” (v1)
- gives us rest, “makes me lie down” (v2)
- gives us strength, “restores my soul” (v3)
- and “guides us along right paths” (v3)
Verse 6 says, “Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life.” As we go through these valleys together, we need to remember that God will use these difficult days for our good.
God takes the difficult times of our lives and uses them to build our character. Paul tells us this in Romans 5:3-5: “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Our reward will last forever.
This is not the end of the story. Heaven will be worth any valley we go through today. No valley, no matter how long it seems now, will last forever. This valley COVID-19 will pass. “For this momentary light affliction is beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I do not know how you are experiencing this valley. I do not know what fear keeps you up at night. I do know that you have a Shepherd walking through this valley with you. I know God will work good out of this situation. I know the valley will not last.
Take some time to soak in Psalm 23 over the next few days, you deserve it!
We will walk through this valley together as we look at it in light of eternity. “God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
The Lord is my shepherd;
There is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me
in front of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy will purse me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the Lord
For endless days.