Life offers moments of celebration, periods of peace and well-being, and presents the occasional storm. We are well-adjusted to the peaceful, happy moments, but it’s the storms, whether short-lived or long and nagging, that challenge us. Nothing brings greater hope in those moments than the approach of relief, the hope of better days.
A solitary sheep stood shivering in the gusty, thunderous storm, her wool quickly collecting the debris flying through the air. As she stood paralyzed with disbelief at her situation, she felt her eyes fill with dirt and matter that clouded her vision. She was afraid.
All the sheep knew to do was to listen for her Shepherd, surely He would come, but the howl of the storm was all she could hear at first. Then, she heard something different, something rhythmic, perhaps the sound of footsteps, followed by the crack of foliage. He was near, and help was coming! Hope filled her heart.
The Shepherd encircled the sheep with His arms to comfort her, and He held her until her shaking diminished. His billowing garment covered her as He gently pulled the debris from her wool. He gently cleaned her eyes with His robe so that she could look at His beautiful face. She hardly noticed that the storm had passed because His presence brought such great peace to her.
We don’t know why the dear sheep was out in the storm on her own, but as we travel life’s journey, we, too, sometimes find ourselves facing a storm, alone and panicked. Our storm may be a health situation that no one seems to understand, it may be the repercussions of a wrong decision, or it may be abandonment from someone we’ve trusted. It could be the pain a loved one is facing. Regardless of the type of storm, every day seems to bring new concerns and pain that stick to us like debris. Our tears cloud our vision. We need the Shepherd.
The challenge we face is this: If we listen only to the sounds of the storm — to the symptoms, our regrets, or our breaking heart –- we won’t hear the approach of our Shepherd and the hope it brings. Help is coming! It may come from scripture, the words of a friend or even a stranger, “The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain…The words of the godly encourage many…The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice…The lips of the godly speak helpful words.” (Proverbs 10:11-32, NLT) If we isolate or shut down, focused only on our pain, we’ll never hear them.
How will the Shepherd choose to comfort us? It could be anyone or anything that comes to cover us and remove the storm’s wounds, drying the tears that have blinded us to our deliverance. In whatever shape it takes, the Shepherd’s face is beautiful. We don’t want to miss it! And perhaps one day, we will be the reflection of His beautiful face that He uses to comfort another hurting soul.
When we encounter a storm in life, our best response will be to always listen for His approach with an expectant heart rather than only listening to the storm’s thunder. He is coming in His perfect timing with the best solution for our situation. His absolute peace will keep us until the storm has passed. Help is coming – can you hear it?