Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is God really a Good Shepherd?

God wants you know that he will bless you and prosper you. He will lead you to good places to 'green pastures' and 'still waters'. He will lead to you places of peace. He will give you peace of mind and peace in your life. He will give you good things. This is because he is a good shepherd. Every thing he leads us into is good. He knows all our circumstances and is in control of everything in our lives.

But have you ever looked around at what is happening to you and wondered if this is really the case? Sometimes it looks like God has left us. Things go wrong in our life. Our plans don’t always succeed. We don’t always have enough money. We get sick. We get hurt. All this happens often through no fault of our own. We pray and our circumstances don’t miraculously change. They may even get worse. How do we reconcile this with God being our good shepherd? Can we reconcile it?

What is our reaction to disaster hitting? Are we angry at God? Do we wonder how God could let things happen? An old question comes to mind: if God is all powerful and all loving how can he allow anything bad to happen? Either he isn’t all powerful or he isn’t all loving. Of course there is a third option - that we don’t fully understand God. Though much about God has been revealed in the Bible we must never forget that we cannot fully understand him. Ultimately God is a mystery.

Psalm 23 is that is not just about the 'green pastures' and 'still waters'. One of the most wonderful parts of the psalm is that we can 'walk through the valley of the shadow of death' without fear. When the darkness closes in on us God is still there. He is with us in the difficulty. He is leading us through the problems. There is a blessing for us in the middle of the situation not just at the end. That is God being our good shepherd.

I believe in a God who heals. Miracles do happen today. But in my experience I don’t see that healing right away. When it does come it comes by natural means – a body repairing itself or the result of medical treatment. In some situations that healing does not come at all. I don’t know why. But that doesn’t stop me asking. I will still anoint with oil. I will still command a healing in Jesus name. That is what I see in the Bible. But I will also face the facts. There are no simple formulas.

When God does not appear to be answering my response is not to lose faith. It is not to blame God. As Job said, God is the one who gives and takes away. Whatever he chooses must be good by definition – even if in my mind I wouldn’t do it that way. I give thanks and praise to an all powerful, all loving God who knows exactly what he is doing. Yes, God is really a Good Shepherd even when it doesn’t look it.

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