Lambs Indeed Why All of Us Need the Good Shepherd
Dr. Valson Abraham
I am writing this during the plague of tornadoes that have devastated Joplin, MO, and other places in the Plains States. I know many people there, some of my dearest friends were wiped out of their earthly belongings. I know some who lost loved ones. At such times, we suddenly realize how incredibly weak we are. In comparison with the forces of nature, we are like small lambs in the jaws of a ravenous wolf.
A few years ago, we faced our own sudden natural disaster when a tsunami washed our shores and destroyed the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands.
But natural disasters are only one of the many overpowering dangers we face. We also face even greater danger from powerful and unprincipled people who seek to exploit us in numerous ways. We face danger from Satan and his hordes of demons who wander the earth seeking people to devour and destroy. Above all, we all face death itself against which even the most powerful presidents and dictators are helpless. All of us have seen depictions of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, carrying a small lamb in His arms. In fact, we have one of those depictions on this current issue of Revive.
The lamb in Jesus’ arms symbolizes each one of us. How many of us actually identify with the lamb—small, helpless, ignorant of the forces around him, dependent upon those who are bigger, stronger and wiser. Something perverse in all of us does not want to identify with that helpless little lamb—until disaster strikes.
We must learn now to trust Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who watches over us and sustains us through gain or loss. The Good Shepherd in John 10 is a picture of the ideal king who takes care of His people. We meet Him as the Good Shepherd in the prophetic books, in such passages as Isaiah 40:11 and Micah 5:4.
What does the Good Shepherd have to say to those who suffer tornadoes, tsunamis and death? He tells us that He will bear us up in His arms, that He gives His life for us. He carries us with nail-scarred hands, in a bosom that once experienced a spear in His side. We rest in Him and share not only His sufferings but also in His resurrection. The Good Shepherd has ways of bringing good out of evil. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death.
The valley of the shadow of death—all who call themselves Christians must pass through it. In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes it: “dark as pitch…[filled with] hobgoblins, satyrs and dragons of the pit [hell]…a continual howling and yelling, as of a people under unutterable misery…discouraging clouds of confusion. Death also doth spread his wings over it…dreadful, being utterly without order…very dangerous quags.”
Nothing can deliver us from this valley but the Good Shepherd.
John Bunyan knew from experience what he was talking about. He wrote these words from prison where he suffered persecution for his faith for more than twelve years. Instead of becoming discouraged, he endured, keeping faith in the Good Shepherd to redeem his years of solitude and imprisonment.
The Good Shepherd answered his prayers. Pilgrim’s Progress has been read by untold millions of people. It has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible. It has never gone out of print since it was first published in 1678. Out of his experience, John Bunyan could say with conviction, “He that is down need fear no fall.”
The “valley of the shadow of death” is all around us in this earthly life. We need not fear, for the Good Shepherd goes before us, ultimately turning our suffering for good. He does this with the same power that turned His own death into resurrection.
Pray for those in India who walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” and have yet to know the Good Shepherd who wants to become their companion and guide through the darkness.
Prayer: Good Shepherd, Jesus, remind us through your Holy Spirit how lamb-like we really are. Help us to trust you as our Good Shepherd in every issue of life and death, that we might experience your victory in all things.