One of the most famous passages in scripture is found in Psalm 23, a psalm I’ve been mulling over the last couple of years.
These six simple verses are loaded with rich hope and truth for those who call on the Lord.
But to be honest, these verses haven’t always been a source of hope for me. More often than not, I have left the passage frustrated and confused.
My struggle with infertility has been just that, a struggle. I often feel like I’m stumbling through a room with my eyes closed.
Over the last three and a half years, I’ve had several friends have numerous children. Each unique announcement is an exciting time of friendship where I have the opportunity to rejoice with my friends in their new life.
I have a deep desire to rejoice with those walking this journey, regardless of the wait being weeks or years. Like most people, I have different reactions with the different announcements. Sometimes, feeling like rejoicing proves harder than others. Sometimes, the rejoicing is immediate. It just depends on the day.
I don’t know if it was the timing of the year or the fact that several friends had recently announced pregnancies, but at one point I was left asking when we would have the chance to announce our own arrival.
I was left wanting more.
And I was quickly reminded of Psalm 23. I was reminded of my confusion surrounding the very first verse of this famous psalm.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
This intimate God, this self-existent and eternal God who is a gentle and tender leader, knows His sheep as a whole and as individuals. He knows what His sheep need and what they want. David, growing up as a shepherd, identifies God as a lovingly protective guide. This role of God as our shepherd and we His sheep is seen elsewhere in the Bible. Jesus also identifies Himself as the good shepherd in John 10:11.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He provides rest for me. Not just what I want, but what I need. He gently leads me to the quiet resting place for my soul.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
It is the Lord who restores the soul. He is the One who gives life. And He doesn’t only provide life but provides a path to follow 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,
they comfort me.
When in the darkness of death-that deep, thick darkness-there is nothing to fear. The Lord is there and the Lord supports.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
The Lord sets a table before the enemy. In the midst of those who wish harm, the Lord blesses and satisfies with more than enough.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (ESV)
Because the Lord is God, goodness and mercy will be with His while they have life. Ultimately, true satisfaction is found in the presence of Him.
I later shared this with Daniel. We have led a song together several times over the last few years about this particular psalm and several times I shared the difficulty I found with the statement, “I shall not want” with him.
How do I not want? Am I living in sin when I want something else? How do I not desire something that is so freely given to others?
In some ways, I felt like these questions were answered that day. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answer, I did. I could recite what I knew to be true. But, I hadn’t yet understood the truth I’ve been reminded of over and over and over again.
The Lord is answering our prayers for children by drawing us closer to Himself. He is our reward and our sustenance. I shall not want because the Lord gives me what I need and I trust Him because He is my shepherd.
I was focused so much on the second part of the first verse, I shall not want, that I overlooked the most important part of it: The LORD is my shepherd. It is because He is my shepherd that I have the ability to not want.
If we go through this process and never have a child, yet the Lord is with us, I know we will be okay. And not just okay, but overwhelmingly satisfied.
Not because of our merit but because our true satisfaction is found in Him.
And He is a Good Shepherd.
Here’s the song I referenced for reflection: Psalm 23