We know that one of the Bible’s common descriptions of followers of Jesus is that they are like sheep. It is well known that sheep are animals prone to fear. Not being under the care of a shepherd can quickly lead to confusion, panic and danger for a sheep. In applying the analogy back to people, no wonder Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the large crowds of people. They “were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). It is true, those outside of Christ have no shepherd. But for us who Jesus has drawn to Himself in salvation, we most certainly have a shepherd, Jesus Himself. He is called the Shepherd of Israel (Ps. 80:1), the Good Shepherd (John 10:10), the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) and that Great Shepherd of the sheep (Heb. 13:20). And probably most well known, is David calling him “my Shepherd” (Ps. 23:1).
In light of this great and comforting truth, it is a sad reality that we sometimes act like we don’t have a shepherd. Or, that the shepherd is not attentive to us or is far away from us. Perhaps we are confronted with a hard or fearful circumstance, and before too long our mind is running 100 mph down the highway of where this circumstance may lead, how much worse it could get, and more. Then, we may begin to try to figure out how we can solve the problem. But this may lead to frustration, because we realize we are not exactly sure what to do, and who likes the feeling of helplessness and inability to solve a problem? Then, we feel guilty because we know we should trust God, but doubt and unbelief seem to be winning the day. Therefore, we feel ashamed and even more helpless because we can’t fix ourselves. What do we do? In light of our privileged position of having Jesus as our shepherd, let me offer these words of wisdom to we fearful sheep:
1. The Shepherd Thinks About You. Psalm 40:17, “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.” Believer, Jesus is thinking about you. Right now! In your fearful circumstance His mind is towards you for good. After all, your shepherd laid down His life for your salvation (John 10:10). After He has done that, He will not forget you now. He knows all the details of the trouble that you are facing in this moment. He has never promised you an easy journey, but He has promised goodness and mercy would always be with you. Be comforted because you are on His mind!
2. The Shepherd Has All That You Need. The thought of Psalm 23:1 is, “The Lord is my Shepherd, in Him I lack for nothing.” I need forgiveness for my unbelief; He provides it generously. I need wisdom for making decisions; His word is full of wisdom. I need strength and grace to endure this trial; His grace is sufficient. I need perspective to see things clearly as I ought; He gives light and understanding. When we can’t solve a problem we face or we see that we can’t control a certain situation, we may respond with panic and more fear. This is the time to remind ourselves that we are not all-sufficient, but the Lord is! In fact, it is a very good thing that we are not in control and that He is. Be comforted that even though you may be scared and struggling, you know exactly where your help and strength is found.
3. The Shepherd Calls You to Guard Your Mind. We cannot prevent thoughts of panic or worry from entering our minds. But, we are responsible for how we deal with those thoughts. First, if there is something that you can do to ease your mind as part of your obligation or responsibility in a certain situation, do it. Irresponsibility and negligence are not virtues. But, after that, we must remember that our worrisome thoughts don’t accomplish anything good. We are called to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). When unwelcome or unhealthy thoughts come, purpose to war against those with true thoughts from God’s word. Remind yourself that God is to be trusted. Recall the many reasons for which you must praise God. Tell yourself again that the most important thing is that we are faithful to please and glorify God in every situation. Remember that you are not alone; you have a Good Shepherd.