A Pessimist's Look at Psalm 23

I'm coming to realize that each reassurance and each claim on the Lord's goodness has an implication. We must expect to face great need in this life -- otherwise, why would we have the promise of His provision?

There will be times when I need to lie down somewhere quiet, when my greatest need will be to rest.

My soul will never need restoring for the last time, not in this lifetime. I am neither unbreakable nor irreparable.

There will always be more than one possible path, and I will need guidance to recognize which is the righteous one. It will be an act of self-denial and submission to choose this path. It will not be the popular path.

I will pass more than once through valleys of deep darkness in mortality's shadow. Where there is physical life, death must follow. I need to know how to face grief, and how to accept my own life's inevitable end.

There will always be evil, and with it always something to fear.

I will not outgrow the need to be corrected or redirected.

I will never be so strong that I don't need to be defended.

I will not outgrow the need to feel comforted.

There will always be an enemy (or enemies) and I must choose to pray for each one. This will be difficult, and in their presence I will need to be nourished.

And then, in the face of overwhelming need, I see my Shepherd.

My Shepherd calls me by name, and I know His voice. My Shepherd is near, has anointed my head with His own hand, and though my location may change, my place in His household will not. When I meet grief, fear, and error, I can look behind me every time and see His goodness and lovingkindness. I will look behind and see that in my greatest poverty of spirit, He gave me Himself, and that was enough.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.

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