Joy becomes a challenge during seasons of longsuffering, those times when grief suffocates us and we find ourselves in the grips of deep depression. Having and expressing it becomes almost impossible when we’ve suffered through tremendous atrocities that seem to keep coming in so many waves that we can barely make it through the day. It is during those times that our faith in God is pushed to the limit and our joy fades.
The job of a shepherd is a tedious one that requires the demonstration of the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, self-control, goodness, and faithfulness—toward its flock. Jehovah-Raah is our Shepherd who gently guides us, his flock, along our journey, who lovingly keeps us on the path, who searches for us when we lose our way.
What has become your idol? Are you beholden to your worry, your fears, and doubt? Are you going to food before you head to the throne in prayer? Are you seeking counsel from trusted friends instead of asking God to guide you? How much do you really trust God to be Jehovah-Jireh, to provide the answers you need, the opportunities, an open door for new things to come into your life, and help when you’re drowning?
How many of us are sitting by our own pool of Bethesda? Not a physical pool, but an emotional one where we’re nursing wounds from past relationships, holding onto unforgiveness, harboring guilt for the things we’ve done to others and ourselves? The people who hurt you have moved on and left you with the bitterness, the anger, and the resentment. And when you look over your life, you realize how much time has passed since those incidents you’ve been unable to release occurred
Believe it or not, it’s during times like these when God proves himself to be our Jehovah-Shammah, “The Lord is There”, but because we cannot see Him operating on our behalf, we believe we’re abandoned, and once we feel abandoned, then we try to handle our own business. In doing so, we forget to pray, we forget to trust, and we forget to believe our omnipotent God has our back.
The fight with which we’re faced is one that is spiritual. Ephesians 6:12 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. Since this battle is intensifying, then we must be equipped to ward off the enemy’s attack.