Thy Rod & Thy Staff, They Comfort Me…

Thy Rod and Staff

I’ve known the 23rd Psalm for a long time, but the Word of God is living and sharper than any 2-edged sword–it’s always speaking to us in different ways. More and more I am understanding the comfort of these words.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

No matter what trial we go through in this life, the Lord is right there with us. Walking beside us. He is guiding us, and chastening us. And it’s painful, but it’s comforting.

Earlier this week, we had a women’s meeting at church led by our pastor’s wife. It was such a lovely time of fellowship in the Lord and learning. The Lord used something she said to speak to me.

She was talking about prayer (in response to a prayer request–this wasn’t even the real message), and talking about praying earnestly and not letting go, like Jacob/Isreal did. She was talking about praying for the salvation of our children earnestly and with passion, and being persistent about it.

On my way home that night, the Lord began to open my eyes to my own prayer life, and to gently chasten me.

I’ve prayed about many things over the years. But as the Lord brought to my mind, the two things that I would say are the “desires of my heart,” the things I have prayed about most earnestly…they were both basically selfish and temporal things. They weren’t material things, and they weren’t sinful things. In fact, I believe both of these things could help me serve Him better.

But the point is, they aren’t eternal things. They are based in this earthly life and body.

The things that I have desired most in my prayer life aren’t eternal things. And I had to repent.

My pastor has been preaching a lot about prayer, and about God’s kingdom being the focus of it. In addition to that, I’ve been thinking and studying about prayers in the Bible. Those men (and women) praised the Lord. They worshiped. They prayed for salvation.

Their prayers look so different than ours do now.

So often it seems we want to make God our personal genie in a bottle. We want to ask him to give us wealth, health, and comfort. We want a new car, a bigger house, a better paying job. Our world tells us that should be our focus. Even in Christian circles we find that focus.

More and more, I’m burdened that these are not the things that should be my focus. Those aren’t eternal things. They don’t matter. 

God’s glory and expanding His kingdom. That’s what matters, and I pray that I would get more and more lost in that every day. So many people say, “I don’t want to lose myself. I can be me and still follow Christ.” More and more, I think that’s just the point. I don’t want to be me. I want to lose myself in Him and His purposes. To lose my life and find it. 

Oh, I am so far away from where I’d like to be. But I’m comforted and I’m so thankful for a God who chastens His children. Sometimes gently and sometimes not-so-gently. He is leading me every day, guiding me along the straight and narrow path, making me more and more in the image of Christ every day, even to the point of chastening.

Such a sweet comfort.

Comments

  1. Melissa says

    I don’t think you can lump “health” in with the material things that don’t matter. As someone battling stage 4 cancer, I can assure you it matters.

    • michelle says

      I didn’t think that was really what she was talking about. And I’m so sorry for your struggle, but there is so much comfort to be found here and sad that you chose instead to focus on that one tiny word. However, I get what she’s saying here. Yes it matters, but not in light of eternity. I pray that the Lord will give you comfort in this time and that He will save your soul (if you arent saved) so that even in the midst of this trial, you’ll be able to feel that comfort of resting in Him and resting in eternity spent with Him. Just as Paul said in the midst of his immense trials, suffering, and eventual martyrdom, the current afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the joy that will be revealed in us.

      I pray you will have peace and comfort that can only come from the Lord. Also, I’d like to recommend the blog Mundane Faithfulness by Kara Tippetts. She wrote a book as well about her struggle with cancer. She was witnessing and praising until the very end. Such an inspiration.

      • Melissa says

        How can you pray that I’ll have peace & comfort while at the same time agreeing that these are things we have no business asking for because they are not “eternal”?? Check out James 5:13-18 about praying for healing. Or how about, “Give us this day our daily bread”? Prayer should be like unburdening your heart to a dear friend. If you are making up rules & regulations for it, you are missing the point and an opportunity to truly become closer to God.

        • Michelle says

          Melissa, no one is making up rules and regulations. The Lord promises us peace that passes understanding, and that is my prayer for you in this difficult time. I meant comfort–that He would comfort you in your pain as a daddy for His daughter, which isn’t the same thing as wanting to live a comfortable life free from troubles and physical ailments. I can’t really explain the difference if you don’t already understand and I apologize for my failing in that.

          You are the one that missed the point of this entire post, choosing to focus on one word that you could take issue with instead of seeing the whole message.

          It’s obvious that The Lord does not heal every physical ailment. Even Paul prayed 3 times for his to be removed and The Lord said, “my grace is sufficient.” A comfortable life here and now is not His end result for us, and I praise Him for that. His plans and purposes are so much greater!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Melissa, I am so sorry for what you are going through, and that my words wounded you. It’s impossible for me to anticipate all the different ways that my words can be taken, but I assure you that is not what I had in mind. This was just a gentle, personal encounter that I had with the Lord where He reminded me to “set my mind on things above.” Perhaps you don’t need that reminder at all, but in that moment, I did. I didn’t say that we should never pray about those things. I simply said that the Lord convicted me that I should “set my mind on things above and not on earthly things,” when it comes to the most earnest of prayers.

      Please know it was not at all my intent to try and enforce rules and regulations where they do not exist, but rather to learn from the saints who have gone before us, particularly those in the Bible. Maybe the Lord is not convicting you in that same way and that is okay. We are all on a journey to sanctification and holiness and it might look different in the details, and scruples.

      The main point, though, wasn’t even about that. The point is that He is very personal to my situation and He loves me enough to guide and chasten me. Maybe for you that looks different, but His word tells us that He chastens those that He loves, those who are His children. Even though His chastening and guiding might be painful at times (such as in trials or when He says “no” to something we desire), it’s a comfort at the same time, because He is still there loving us, working all things to His glory and our good, like the good Father He is.

  2. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for your willingness to be open, even in sharing of your own weaknesses. Yes, God is so gracious to be ever guiding us. What a wonderful God we serve!

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