Psalms 23:1-3 ESV
“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.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”
We all have needs. Some of them are emotional needs, some are spiritual, and some are physical. For God made us not just as physical bodies, but he made us with hearts and souls, with a desire to love and to be loved, with a desire for companionship and fellowship, and with a desire to be part of something greater than just ourselves. He made us communal people.
He said that it was not good for man to be alone and so he made woman to be his companion, to be his helper. And then he gave them children who then had children, and then there were lots of people on the earth. And when he draws us to faith in Jesus Christ, it is not just to be in fellowship with Christ, but it is also to be in fellowship with the body of Christ.
So, he didn’t create us to live this life alone. His design and purpose for us is that we live in community with others, particularly with fellow believers in Jesus Christ. And his design for us as believers in Jesus is that we help one another in our walks of faith to maturity in Christ so that we don’t end up being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness or being led astray by charlatans.
Ideally, this is how things are to be, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a sinful world among many different people of all walks of life and of all different confessions of faith in Jesus Christ, and so we aren’t all unified who profess faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t all share the same goals and purposes or beliefs. And if you are in the minority, it can be a lonely life.
And in our day and time, at least here in America, when so many professers of faith in Jesus have gone the way of the world and of big business, and thus they are catering to the people of the world in order to attract the world to their gatherings, it has forced a huge separation between the worldly “Christians” and those who are serious about their walks of faith in Jesus.
The worldly “Christians” are now being taught that they have the truth and that those who are following the Scriptures (the whole counsel of God) are hyper-religious or self-righteous or judgmental, or that they are trying to earn their salvation via repentance, submission, and obedience to the Lord. And so many professers of Christ are pushing away other Christians who are serious about their walks of faith and who are serious about the Lord.
So, if you are walking the narrow road among many people who are not, among people who have accepted a much more worldly perspective of what the Christian life should look like, you are likely to be an outcast, one who is told to “go someplace else where you will be a better fit” or who will be yelled at and told that you are wrong and that the majority is right.
And so you end up being lonely and afflicted, and so you cry out your suffering to the Lord, but there you find his tender arms open wide to you to comfort and encourage you, and to let you know that he has not abandoned you, and that your suffering serves a purpose. And then he leads you in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. And there you find rest.
Psalms 23:4 ESV
“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.”
If you choose to walk the narrow road that few travel while the rest are following a broad road which leads to destruction, or while many professers of faith in Jesus are wandering off the narrow road and are kind of floating between the narrow path and the broad road, living lukewarm lives, you will be rejected. You will be cast aside and ostracized and persecuted, too.
And your persecutors and those who are rejecting you probably won’t be so much the people of the world as they will be the worldly Christians and their leaders (pastors, elders, deacons, etc.). For who were Jesus’ greatest persecutors? They were his own people of his own faith of the Temple of God, many of whom were the temple rulers and teachers of the Scriptures.
And so they will come against you, some of them vehemently because you are opposing their lifestyles by what you believe and practice and by what you teach and share with your words. For if you are on the narrow path, you will be speaking out against evil and falsehood and immorality in the church and against wolves in sheep’s clothing and the cheap grace gospel.
And so the worldly church and the lukewarm professers of faith in Jesus Christ are not going to accept you, and they will cast you aside, and you will feel very lonely and rejected and heartbroken because those who were supposed to love you and support you and encourage you are now turned against you and they have become your enemies and/or your opposition.
But when we come to that place in our walks of faith, we are to fear no evil for God is with us. For he will comfort us with his love and with the truths of his words and with the knowledge that he is completely sovereign over our lives, and that all that we are going through serves his purposes, and that he intends to get the glory from it all. So, we just have to trust him.
Psalms 23:5-6 ESV
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Where one door closes for us, and even if many doors slam shut in our faces, the Lord is not caught by surprise. He knew this was all going to happen. And he truly does have a plan and a purpose for it all in our lives and in the lives of others. And he will make a way for us where there seems to be no other way. So, we just have to follow his lead and trust him.
Sometimes he closes doors or he allows doors to be closed in our lives because he has another plan for us, something else he wants us to do that we might not have done if we had not faced the rejection that we faced. Sometimes closed doors is what pushes us in the direction that the Lord wants us to go and so they end up being blessings in disguise.
Let me give a personal example here so you understand what I mean. The closer I got in my walk with the Lord and the more serious I got about what his word teaches us and doing what it says the more I was cast aside and pushed out or kicked out and had doors slam shut in my face and people reject me and even fight against me and even yell at me cruelly.
But God used that in my life to point me in another direction. He sent me to the internet to share what he teaches me from my times with him each day in his word. And at first it was very lonely and I wasn’t even sure if anyone was even reading what the Lord gave me to write, and I probably did this for ten years before I began to get any kind responses and Christian fellowship.
But then people began to respond and to encourage me and I was able to encourage them and then the Lord led me to other Christians of like-mind on the internet who are sharing the truths of the Scriptures and who are also being fought against by those who have bought into the cheap grace gospel. And that has been so healing for me to have that community of support.
But I would still do what I do even if I didn’t have that. But it has been so refreshing being able to share with other believers who are also walking the narrow road and who have not compromised with the world, at least from what they tell me. But I also know that the Lord has used me to share his gospel throughout the world and I know that is making a difference in other people’s lives.
And so where other humans rejected me and pushed me away and wanted nothing to do with me, God had a plan and a purpose for my life to use me in ways he had planned for my life even before he created the world, the Scriptures teach. And he can do the same for you if you let him. So, don’t drown in your sorrow, but let the Lord use you to make a difference in other people’s lives for the glory of God and for the salvation of human souls.
You Loved Me
An Original Work / December 3, 2019
A song based off the poem by the same name
When I was lonely and afflicted,
You were there to pick me up.
You took me in Your arms,
And You held me tenderly.
Your love embraced me.
Your grace sustained me.
When my heart cried out to You
In my fear and my despair,
You never turned away,
But You let me know You loved me.
Your grace forgave me.
You did not shame me.
Then, when I answered the call,
“Here, Lord, send me.”
You sent me to where I must be.
Your mercy held me, did not fail me.
All this, You had planned, to use me.
And, when all trials and scorn
Came to test me.
You gave me all that I would need.
You strengthened me so I’d not fail You.
Your kindness blessed me, it touched me.
And, when I needed the church
To lift up me,
To hearten me so I’d not fail,
You blessed me with folks who would love me.
Their presence with me, Your praise hailed!
And, when I walked through the valley
Of the shadow of the death,
And tears flowed from my eyes,
Still Your kindness was there for me.
Your touch, it healed me.
For I believed You.
When now I think about the ways,
Of the many, many ways
That You in Your great love
Show me that You’ll always care for me,
My heart, it thanks You,
And gladness fills me, fills me.