Psalm 23:1, 2 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”
You, Lord Jesus, as my Shepherd, MAKE me to lie down in green pastures—you don’t ask what I think or want. You select the pasture I need now and keep me there as long as is necessary so I can grow and deepen, mature and develop to become more like Christ, a better instrument in your hand.
Joseph in the Old Testament didn’t particularly want to be a slave, or go to prison, but those were the green pastures you had for him. And there he learned to deny self, to live for you and to be a good administrator. This made him fit to save many others, including his family, the Egyptians, and the line of Jesus–so the Messiah could be born and eventually save us!
When finding ourselves in green pastures that aren’t pleasant (sickness, time in the hospital as I just had, loss, disappointment, heartache or failure, to name a few), we can follow this advice: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you KNOW that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
In the hand of our Shepherd, difficulties are directive, problems are providential and heartaches can be healing if we cooperate with Him, continuing to lie down in the green pastures He selects.
A key aspect here is to embrace what He brings with thanksgiving rather than just suffering through with discontent and complaining. To embrace is to receive grace, to complain is to reject it: “God resists the proud [who reveal their pride by complaining] but gives grace to the humble [who accept with thanksgiving what He brings]” (James 4:6).
So, Lord, help us to trust you to know what for us is a green pasture and join you in what you are doing in and through it, in and through us.