I believe in speaking out the word of God, especially when we are in times of need.
‘This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth,’ was the command given to Joshua, and we too are told to confess with our mouths as well as believing in our hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord.
When I find myself in need of speaking out the promises of God I turn, time and again, to David’s wonderful Shepherd Psalm.
‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ We must believe this.
But there are other words I have learned to cling to. It goes on, ‘He restores my soul.’
It was when I was living in Ghana that I came to appreciate this verse as they interpreted it. In the Ashanti language it says, ‘He cools my soul.’
In the oppressive heat and humidity, and especially under the awning for their
Then I came back to the unpredictable weather of the United Kingdom. I remember we were gathered in a large old Welsh chapel for a Women’s Rally. The cold seemed to be creeping into my bones.
I remembered the promise of restoration. ‘Lord,’ I prayed, ‘if you can cool my soul, can you not warm me?’ I don’t know whether their heating system had kicked in or whether it was my own personal miracle, but I knew God had answered, for I was no longer shivering.
Just now I feel I am suffering from the deprivation of lockdown. I’ve been trying to practice godliness with contentment, thanking God for all the inspiration he has been giving me in writing, and the ability to get out of my flat every day for a little walk, even in the rain.
But recently I’ve heard of a friend, separated from her family for these long months, able at last to visit for a few days. When she spoke of the joy of a physical embrace, and being brought a cup of tea, the enemy took advantage to stir up self pity. I knew I must fight this attack. Where is my sword of the spirit? What can I speak out of God’s word to put the enemy to flight?
I’m sure we have all been inspired by the testimony of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who, separated from her husband and children, spent eight years on death row, in solitary confinement and doubtless under constant pressure to deny her faith. Yet she has emerged to freedom and a new life with no apparent scars of those years of deprivation upon her. She endured, like Moses, ‘as seeing him who is invisible.’
If she had faith to endure, why should I feel hard done by in my comfortable circumstances? Once again I am learning to speak out words from this, our favourite psalm.
‘Lord, you are my shepherd, I shall not want.’ I come to the verse, ‘You restore myLord, what is it I need for you to restore me? I don’t need cool breezes, I am not in need of warmth.’ But I was in need of comfort, for I was struggling with the tears. Then it came, a wonderful hug, straight from the heart of God.
It was not a physical hug. Not allowed. No, it came as an email, a message from the heart of God, reassuring me of his unfailing and all-embracing love. I have courage to continue. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Whatever our circumstances, may we each know the Lord as the shepherd who restores our soul.