In the headlines we find a steady source of food for our fears; but in God’s word we find food for our faith. What are you reading, consuming, and believing in these strange CoVID-19 days?
If I might make a recommendation, Psalm 23. There’s a reason it is one of the most memorized and cherished passages of scripture. Many of us memorized it as children; but is it still stored up in your heart? When is the last time you read through it slowly and prayerfully?
A series of reflections on the Twenty-Third Psalm by the late Dallas Willard was recently published in a book called Life Without Lack. At the beginning, Willard states that “[one] of our greatest needs today is for people to really see and really believe the things they already profess to see and believe” (emphasis in the original). In other words, to take the well-worn truths that we’ve been taught since childhood and give a good deal of thought as to whether we are living as if it is true. Take for instance the first line of the psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Willard remarks, “Unfortunately, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ is a sentiment carved on tombstones more often than a reality written in lives.”
Psalm 23 is often associated with death and dying, probably because it is read so often to grieving families at graveside services. While it is certainly comforting in such times, it is not primarily for those who grieve; it’s for those who fear. It is a song God has given us to sing in the face of whatever threatens our life. It is a song that feeds our faith in times when we are surrounded by things to fear. It is a song that helps us shift our focus from the gloom and doom that surrounds us to the sure promises and presence of God.
So, when you feel a little rattled by the news, take Psalm 23 with you to your prayer time. Consume it slowly. Perhaps you could try reading it aloud, emphasizing different words with each repetition of a line. Talk to God about your fears and listen carefully to what he is saying to you in the quiet, calm voice of this little psalm.