That is exactly how I’ve felt everyday of the past month since we released The Jesus of My Grief.
Overwhelmed by your kindness.
Overwhelmed by your love.
Overwhelmed by your pain.
Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I am humbled and honored to hold your words, your woes in my heart. I must tell you, I have placed them all at the feet of Jesus.
A couple weeks ago I was driving to church and I was praying for you and I was completely overcome. A wave of sorrow impaled me, nearly causing me to pull over until an even greater wave of truth surged up underneath me. I was lifted so high I found myself shouting exuberantly:
“He loves us. He loves us. He loves us!”
Tears wet my face as I continued driving, overwhelmed by the tenderness and capacity of Jesus for His wounded children. Wanting to write but feeling at a loss for words, I prayed,
“What do I say to this audience in need?”
And ever so sweetly and yet so very, very strong I heard…
Tell them, I am their Shepherd.
At that, my heart began to swell with words, waves of ink ready to hit the page and I determined to make space to write that evening.
But the evening came and so did the needs of four boys and a house and a job and a husband and dear, dear sleep. I never made it to the computer.
The next morning, I was very aware of how desperately my often overlooked second middle needed time with his mama.
“Why don’t you go get a book Lijah and we can cuddle up and read together.”
He bounded up the stairs to the bookshelf in his room, home to hundreds of books, and he flew back down the stairs giddy and plopped this in my lap.
I caught my breath. I suddenly remembered. My Lord did not want me to forget His whisper….
Tell them, I am their Shepherd.
I read the book to my baby, and we did what children do so well and so easily- we imagined. We were no longer Kate and Elijah, but two sheep on a journey with our good, good Shepherd.
What would it be like to know the Shepherd so intimately, to know Him so profoundly, that we could proclaim…
The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
A couple days ago, I was swept away once again in a grief current. I was aching over the “No” that has come time and time again when I’ve asked the Lord to entrust us with another daughter. I have watched as friend after friend and sister after sister have welcomed little bundles of lovely into their lives. I pray and pray for healthy daughters for each of them. I rejoice and thank God when they are a born. I ache to get my hands on them and to greet them with lots and lots of love and then I have this moment, the one I am terribly frustrated and grieved by, the moment when I feel incredibly empty and sad. It’s been nearly ten years of praying for a baby girl. Ten years of boys (whom I adore). But the answer is no. No to Anna. No to my dream and in that moment I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of longing.
Overcome I pleaded,
Jesus what do I do with this pain? Jesus help me!
And once again…
I am your Shepherd…you have everything you need.
Heavy with longing, heavy with what I have been stripped of and withheld, the Lord said to me… “You have everything you need because I am your Shepherd.”
Sometimes we don’t feel it, do we? Sometimes the Lord being our Shepherd doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel tangible enough, or full enough, or sweet enough. So does that mean it isn’t true?
Each of us carry our own longing. I can easily feel guilty for mine. This week someone said to me, “Do you have any idea how blessed you are to have four boys?” And they are right, so very, very right. But the reality of and the extent of my blessing doesn’t erase my longing. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. In one hand so much joy and in the other, pain.
We each have a unique longing, a unique need. The woman who sees a negative pregnancy test month after month. The woman whose baby slipped away before she could ever hold her. The woman whose endured multiple losses and her arms are still empty, her heart imploding with agony and anger. The woman whose teenage daughters are covered heavy in the world and she has no idea how to love or protect them. The woman who’s unfulfilled by her marriage and feels no hope that it can change. The woman who has no husband and feels unwanted. The single mom who works so hard and is so lonely. The woman who wakes every morning to a blanket of depression, a blanket she has no idea how to peel away. The woman whose child is sick or faces mental or physical challenges. The woman whose son, husband, father is dying of cancer and dread fills her heart everyday. The woman who prays for healing but knows she is dying.
And for each of these God says…
I am your Shepherd, you have everything you need.
The psalmist proclaims…
You lead me to streams and pasture to refresh and restore. You comfort and anoint my head, my wounds with oil. And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, because you, you my Shepherd are with me. You will lead me on paths of righteousness for your name sake…and surely, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell with my good God forever.
I write it. I speak it. I feel it simmering and I know it’s true. My longing remains but the joy for what I do have in Jesus has flooded the empty places…for now. And the next moment my pain reminds me that I am needy, my Shepherd will take me by the hand and once again lead me to the streams that only He can take me to.
Each of our stories are so very different. Some of our pains seem utterly unbearable. I think of certain stories I have received in the past month and I can barely breathe through the pain and empathy I feel. And yet the truth is always true…no matter the depth or darkness of the story. And perhaps the greater the depths the more saving the truth.
The Lord is our Shepherd. We have everything we need- a provider, a protector, a sustainer, an infallible and ever present friend. And His love is better than life (Psalm 63), better than all we so desperately long for. Lord, please help us to get to the marrow of this truth. Help us to be saved and transformed by it.
I pray today my friend that whatever unique pain or longing you possess, that the 23rd Psalm will become for you not simply words on a page, but a door into an encounter, an experience, a relationship that will save and satisfy. A friendship with the Shepherd, the one by whom all longings find grace and are fulfilled.
Yes, the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.