Psalm 23 and spreading the faith during this Pandemic
Psalm 23 is undoubtedly one of the best-known passages in the Bible. Most of us learned it as children and it continues to be a comfort to those who are dying and for those who have lost loved ones. Maybe it’s so well-loved because it is so personal and individual.
It is exactly what we need to hear today in the midst of COVID-19. The lightning fast and unpredictable spread of COVID-19 has created fear around the world. People are unsure what to do with this worldwide infectious disease outbreak. When we look at all the changes taking place in our own lives and in the world we acknowledge the uncertainties of our future. Every day we read and listen to the statistics of cases and deaths which makes us wonder how long it will before we again greet each other with hugs, kisses, and handshakes. Many of us don’t want more information or answers about COVID-19 and we certainly don’t want more instructions on what to do or not do.
But in this distressing times the one good thing that has come out of this dreadful pandemic is that many people who have no faith or lost their faith or where way led have turned towards God. I hear from my own friends who never went to church or even believed in religion. They are now posting bible verses and prayers in social media and talking to people about the love of God in their own lives. Some of my friends have contacted me to let me know that they have dusted their cupboards and raided their houses from top to bottom to find their Bible and started reading them daily. They say they are reading the Psalms and Proverbs every day. But above all it is wonderful to listen to people tell me that is the Psalm 23 which gives them the much needed comfort, peace and above all protection in these difficult times.
Of all the psalms it’s probably the best known and many people’s favourite. Its words are familiar and beloved. I suspect most of us know the words, and some of us have even memorised them.
These words have always comforted us in times of uncertainty and sustained us through sorrows and losses. They have always given us courage when we are afraid and assured us there is nothing to fear in the dark valley of death. They ultimately offer hope and strength to take our next step and remind us that there is always a way forward even when we feel powerless and fearful. This Psalm reminds us of the promise that we never walk alone.
The 23rd Psalm has been a social comfort for many, many people over centuries. I have heard and seen people that have lost their memories, from dementia or Alzheimer's, somehow can recite this Psalm verbatim. So this psalm is a very powerful psalm and it is one that I think is needed at this time in our world more than ever. I feel this Psalm can nourish and give rest to our souls.
Many of us are stunned, trying to keep up with daily news about the corona virus and the necessary changes to our lives. Many of us are terribly afraid, both for our own well-being and the health of those we love. And in Psalm 23 we get the reminder we need. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” In our fear and in our confusion, God is with us. We are never alone.
Like sheep, we also are easily frightened. We live in an uncertain life. Any hour can bring disaster. And generally, it is the unknown, the unexpected, that frightens us most. But nothing quiets our souls like knowing that our Shepherd is near. Suddenly things are not half as black nor nearly as terrifying. Our Lord is with us. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (I Timothy 1:7).
As we stay in our homes, perhaps gripped by fear, we should always trust and know that Jesus Christ, who is the Good Shepherd, will pick us up and carry us in our moments of greatest need.
Stay safe and God bless you all