Jesus, Our Good Shepherd
By Maria Fontaine
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“And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel.”—Isaiah 45:31
It always helps me to know that whatever affliction, test, or challenge I’m enduring will ultimately serve a good purpose. I find great comfort in reminding myself that the Lord has a plan, in spite of the setbacks or losses we face throughout life, and if I’ll just keep trusting in Him, He will be able to perfect that plan according to His will. Although sometimes we may feel like we’re in the dark about what He’s doing, He doesn’t leave us there. He doesn’t just expect us to take everything completely by faith alone, with no encouragement, vision, or promise for the future. He has given us so many promises in His Word that everything will turn out well in the end, because He knows it helps us to feel loved, to have more faith, and to be patient when He is at work in our lives.
One of the main benefits from times of testing is that these are so often the times when we run to Him and we find the hidden treasures of His secret place in sweet communion with Him. He wants you to reach out to Him at those times, and let Him give you His personal words of direction, encouragement, and reassurance. Just think, the Lord Himself wants to be your personal shepherd. And when you feel alone, when you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to understand, a word of sympathy and encouragement, He is always with you!
You may be tempted to think, “This won’t help our lack of finances, or our sick children, or other problems we’re facing. Taking time with the Lord and seeking His answers in prayer and hearing from Him is all well and good, but it doesn’t bring with it any concrete solutions.” If you’re thinking those thoughts, it’s time to adjust your thinking. We’re talking about taking your problems, questions, and even your great big tangled messes to the God of the universe, and letting Him give you not only the comfort, strength, and wisdom you need, but also guide you to His solutions.
When you hear from the Lord and follow His guidance and Word, it works. Jesus knows what you’re going through and He’s able to give you more than just pretty sermonettes that will temporarily lift your burdens. He wants to give you what you need—answers to your questions, direction when you don’t know what to do, comfort when you feel like you can’t go on, courage to be a witness when you’re afraid, solutions to interpersonal conflicts that seem beyond repair, the encouragement you need to do His will when you’re struggling with a difficult decision, and the supernatural strength that comes only when you lean on Him and find His strength.
He has promised all this and more if you’ll take your problems, trials, needs, and questions to Him. The Lord is our Shepherd, and His Word promises that we shall not want, and He won’t withhold any good thing from those who follow Him.2 He will speak to your heart daily, throughout the day, with His comfort and guidance, just like someone who is with you all day long, who you are constantly going to for counsel.
Jesus promises much more than any earthly counselor or co-worker would be able to give. He is so generous. So if you feel burdened and heavy laden and want to pour out your heart to someone, if you feel swamped with all you have to do, or frustrated that things aren’t working out as you had hoped, Jesus the Good Shepherd, the one who knows you better than anyone, is always there for you. Just go to Him, bring all your anxieties and cares, and give them to Him.3
He doesn’t have to try to fit you into His schedule while He juggles a whole bunch of other people and emergencies. He’s always immediately available! He can bring sweet relief from the worries and cares that tumble about you. And the really great thing is, He understands all sides of the story and has the bigger picture. He won’t misunderstand or jump to conclusions. He sees every angle, and not just from the earthly perspective, but the heavenly perspective.
Jesus knows what it’s like to bear heavy burdens, and He understands how difficult it is when you feel you’re all alone. He experienced loneliness and the physical discomforts of life on earth. Jesus had to endure crowded, difficult living conditions. In fact, He was on the road most of the time, having to find places to stay, or else sleep outside. He didn’t enjoy the pleasure of being able to come back home to rest and relax. He didn’t have a special place where He could retreat for quiet time. He was always in demand. And not only did He have to continually minister to the hungry sheep, He also had to contend with scoffers and those who tried to hassle Him and make His life miserable! By the end of each day He was tired and drained. That’s why He can understand what you’re going through and He can sympathize.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”4 You might not realize it, but you’re going through a learning experience similar to that of Jesus as you pass through the difficulties, trials, battles, and hard conditions that you face in this life. All this is making you into the disciple that Jesus wants you to be.
If we didn’t ever face difficult or desperate situations, the Lord knows we might not naturally feel compelled to put forth the effort to call out to Him and learn to seek His guidance and direction and hear from Him. So in His wisdom, He allows the circumstances we face in life that will compel us to run to Him and learn to communicate with Him intimately. You can’t avail yourself fully of His power while you’re looking down at the waves and at the muddy water that blurs your vision. But if you look at Jesus and the promises in His Word not only for this life but for the future, it will result in a change in your whole way of looking at things.
He’s teaching you to know Him in a new and different way than you have in the past. These very difficult circumstances won’t last forever, and He’ll bring you out into a time of peace and plenty. And through these experiences, you will discover that He is enough. He is more than enough.
You can trust Him with your heart, your future, your decisions. He will never fail you or lead you astray.
Originally published October 1996. Adapted and republished June 2018.
Read by Irene Quiti Vera.