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Question

I am grieving the loss of my husband. I am fearful of being alone. Can God help me?

Answer

Thank you for your honest question, and my deepest sympathy for the difficult time you are going through. I cannot pretend to identify entirely with what you are going through and the struggle you are facing, but I do know that God can identify with you, and He is more than willing to help you through your time of grief.

I want to point you in this answer to some of the most famous words in the Bible, in Psalm 23. This beautiful song penned by King David around 3000 years ago speaks of the wonderful care that the Good Shepherd (who the New Testament speaks clearly of as Jesus Christ Himself) gives to His sheep. Even in such a short Psalm it is overflowing with the amazing blessing of belonging to a shepherd who will lead and guide us through all the twists and turns, the ups and downs of life.

Before we get to the Psalm though I do need to answer you one vital question - I need to ask whether you personally know the shepherd that these words are speaking of. You see, the Bible tells us plainly that this world is divided into 2 clear groups of people - those who trust the Good Shepherd and those who don’t. The Shepherd is willing to take anyone who will come to Him into His care, but the problem with us as human beings is that we naturally reject the leadership of anyone else. We naturally want to live our own lives, and make our own decisions, and don’t want anyone else telling us what to do. This is the essence of what the Bible calls sin, and to be in this place of rebellion is to be separated from God, and separated from the good that He wants to lavish upon us.

The good news of the Bible though is that God has made a way that we can be brought back to Him. The most important thing that Jesus did while here on this earth was to die on a Roman cross. Though He was innocent of any crime, out of His great love for the world, He died a sinner's death so that if we would trust in Him we could have our sins forgiven, and come into the relationship with God that we were always meant to have.

It’s only when we come to that place of turning from our rebellion, and trusting in Jesus that we can experience the full blessing of knowing the Good Shepherd.

Some people will only turn to God when things are desperate and expect Him to help, while for the rest of their lives they ignore Him, but it doesn’t work that way. God wants all of us - it’s a big commitment, but as we’ll see from the words we’re about to read, it’s worth it - there is nothing greater than knowing that ‘the Lord is my shepherd’.

So let’s now take a look at what this amazing Psalm teaches us of the Good Shepherd - let’s start with the opening words of the Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3a)

There are 3 main things that the Shepherd does for His sheep in these verses:

1. He provides all they need. David tells us that because the Lord is his Shepherd, he shall not be in want - the Shepherd knows exactly what the sheep needs, and He will always provide it for them because the welfare of His sheep is always His priority. We get confused sometimes because we think we need certain things, but God doesn’t give them to us - this can lead us to get angry at God because He hasn’t provided for us. What we should be doing is what David did - simply trusting that God knows exactly what we need, and at just the right time He will supply the very best for the sheep that He loves.

2. The Good Shepherd gives His sheep rest. David speaks of the fact that God leads him to places where he can rest - to lie down in green pastures, and walk beside quiet waters. How can a sheep have rest? Only because they know that the shepherd is in control. If the shepherd wasn’t with them they would never have real rest because they’d have to be on the lookout for danger. It is just the same for us - because the Good Shepherd is in control and in charge of all the situations in our lives, we can leave them at His feet, and have real rest.

3. The Good Shepherd restores His sheep. Life can be really tough sometimes, and that’s exactly what you are experiencing now. What’s the answer when we’re tossed about by the storms of life, and we feel as if we’ve been thrown against the rocks and dashed to pieces? Spend some time in the presence of the Shepherd who knows how to mend broken hearts and broken lives. Seek after the one who is able to put you back together, and to make you whole in His love.

So the Good Shepherd gives provision, rest and healing to His sheep at all times of life, but what about when we face the very darkest times of life - can He still help then? The next verse has the answer for us:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

David speaks here of the time when the ultimate danger in life, death itself, brings it’s shadow over his life. Is there anything more fearful in life for us than the threat of death? Yet David tells us that even in that place the Good Shepherd is still able to help. David tells us plainly that even if death itself should stare him in the face, he will never have to fear - and why is that? Because the Good Shepherd is there right by his side, and the Good Shepherd is able to protect him from any danger that might come his way.

Could there be any greater place of comfort than to know that the God who is in charge of the universe, the God who flung stars into space, the God to whom no-one can compare is right there by your side throughout the whole of life.

Just as a small child runs to their father's side when they feel afraid, because they believe they’re ‘safe with Daddy’, so we too who have trusted that Jesus can run to our Father’s side, knowing that He is able to defeat anything that this world can throw at us.

Lastly, let’s look at the final verse of this Psalm, as David turns his eyes onto the future - he says these words:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)

What a comfort these words should be to us if we too trust the Good Shepherd as David did. You see, the Bible never promises that life will always be easy and free from pain. God doesn’t immediately remove everything that is wrong with the world and protect us from every painful and difficult situation we could face. What He does do is turn all of the hardship and suffering we experience in this life on its head and He uses it for our good.

King David certainly didn’t have an easy life, but he was absolutely confident that the goodness and the mercy of God would follow him wherever he went. He trusted in the character of the Shepherd, and so knew that in everything the Shepherd would always work for the good of His sheep who He loves. We too can look at all of the situations God has brought, or allowed into our lives, and whether we can see it or not, we can know that there is a greater and higher purpose behind what is happening to us.

Not only that, but in ending this Psalm, David does give us the ultimate hope of a day when all the pain will finally be removed. David has no doubt whatsoever, that after guiding, protecting, and providing for him all the way through this life, the Good Shepherd will take him to live in His perfect house for the rest of eternity. It’s hard to even begin to describe what heaven will be like, beyond the fact that it will be perfect, but what an amazing hope that it is - a hope that surely should brighten even the darkest of days in this world.

In closing, I hope this brief answer has been of some help to you, and I pray that you will know the comfort of the care of the Good Shepherd through your difficult time. I do want to encourage you though not to try and deal with your grief on your own. The Bible says that to survive as followers of Jesus, we need the support and help of others around us to encourage, counsel, and sometimes correct us along our journey. This support is provided primarily by belonging to a church family, and so I urge you to make sure you are involved in a group of God’s people who can help you through this time. If you are not already a member of a church, then our church finder may be able to help you locate and get involved in one that is local to you. www.lookingforgod.com/churchfinder

I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: www.lookingforGod.com

Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • Romans 8:15-39
  • Matthew 11:28-30
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answers affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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