The Shepherd with Me\
In the psalm we’ve always loved, God reminds us we were made to need Him.
by JENNIFER ROTHSCHILD
I WAS TERRIFIED. I can bungee jump and manage airports and flights alone — and I’m blind!
But … just let the dentist tell me I need a root canal, and I collapse into a puddle of panic and tears.
That’s what happened. At my last dentist appointment, I
discovered I had a dead root that couldn’t be resurrected! When the dentist
told me I needed a root canal, I reacted with an unfiltered, unrehearsed,
unexpected meltdown just like a 5-year-old — except worse because I am in my
But seriously, who wouldn’t be freaked out by a root canal? Can you think of any reason to feel OK about a procedure in your mouth that involves irrigating a canal in your head? Really? Couldn’t they just call the procedure something less anxiety inducing?
So days later when I arrived at the endodontist’s office, I had worked myself into a full-blown nervous wreck.
I prayed. I tried to talk myself out of my unreasonable fear. But it didn’t work.
When the endodontist entered the treatment room, I was laid back, white-knuckling his chair, trying not to hyperventilate. He must have done a quick analysis of his newest patient and remembered, so he said, “Ah, your dentist called and told me about you.”
Great. Now I have a reputation. Told him? It was more like warned him about the pending basket case about to sit in his chair.
As the tech and assistant prepared me for the procedure, I
kept thinking, Aren’t there medications for this? My friends have had drugs
that made them relaxed and loopy. Where are my drugs? If this doc doesn’t give
me drugs, he will need them himself after trying to treat me!
But instead of offering a relaxing medication, he stuck some kind of apparatus with metal clamps and stretchy rubber inside my mouth. Machines began to whir, and my heart began to race.
Between my shallow breaths and shaky faith, I told the Lord I was embarrassed my faith was so tiny and my fear was so big over something so little; after all, no one had ever died from a root canal. I felt like such a nitwit — making a big deal out of such a little thing. But what I really felt was fragile and alone. Then I remembered the verse from 1 Peter: “casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
I repeated that Scripture over and over in my mind while machines buzzed and drills spun and my peacefulness grew. It became comfort to me; a lyric of love that God sang over me. I felt less alone and genuinely cared for — not just by my endodontist, but by my Shepherd.
You have situations and seasons in your life that are far more consequential than an ordinary root canal!
You have situations that bring out your fear. You have endured, or you may be right in the middle of enduring a season that makes you feel so small and needy. You may feel alone and fragile, but you are not alone. God not only cares about you, but during those times, He cares for you. He attends to your needs; He watches over your heart. He cares for you like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
WE ARE LIKE SHEEP
Scripture compares us to sheep, and it’s true; we are as needy as sheep and as dependent on our Lord as sheep are on their shepherd. (See Is. 53:6.)
The Lord is our Shepherd. That means our Shepherd tends to our needs.
He carries you when you can’t carry on. He stands with you and up for you when enemies stand against you. He protects you when you’re unsure or feel unsafe. He provides nourishment when you’re hungry and water when you’re thirsty.
He leads you when you don’t know which way to go. He saves you from your sin and yourself.
He keeps you close to Him. He is faithful to you forever. (And He sticks right there with you even when you overreact to a root canal!)
He will never leave you.
The single greatest way your Shepherd shows His care for you is through His presence — He is with you.
THE SHEPHERD IS WITH US
Psalm 23 is God’s way of saying, “I made you to need Me. I am with you no matter what.”
In every situation, in every season, our Shepherd is with us. In the green pastures and beside still waters, He is with us. Down life’s paths and through dark valleys, He is with us. In dental offices and at the cemetery, during the chemo treatments and in the delivery room, He is with us. At the table of blessing and in His house forever, He is with us.
That is the message of Psalm 23. The Shepherd is with me. Psalm 23 is a spiritual lullaby your Shepherd sings over you all the days of your life.
And if Psalm 23 is a spiritual lullaby your Shepherd sings, then the Shepherd Himself is the cantus firmus of that song.
Have you ever heard of a cantus firmus? A cantus firmus is the preexisting melody used as the basis of a polyphonic composition. In other words, through every verse, every movement, every key change of a composition, flowing beneath, hidden within is the cantus firmus — the echo of that original melody. It’s always there.
Through all the high and low notes of your life, your Shepherd is with you. He is the cantus firmus of your life.
My friend, your Shepherd is right there with you. He not only cares about what you’re going through, He will care for you while you are going through it. So be like a sheep. Look to your Shepherd, and listen for His song. As you do, you’ll experience His care.
Known for her substance and down-to-earth style, JENNIFER ROTHSCHILD weaves together colorful illustrations, biblical principles, and music to help audiences find contentment, walk with endurance, and celebrate the ordinary. Through wit and poignant storytelling, Jennifer relates challenges in her life that prompt women to look beyond their circumstances to find unique gifts in unusual packaging.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (September 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.