13 Responses to the Psalm 23 Challenge

For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

We are so thankful for the thoughtful and encouraging responses we received from the Psalm 23 Challenge. As promised, here is a compilation of our favourite Psalm 23 Challenge answers – 13 of them. We are deeply moved by the authenticity in which people shared, and we are privileged to pray for you. Please feel free to share your prayer requests with us any time as the Lord leads you.

We rejoice in the care of our Great Shepherd. God’s Word is indeed alive and powerful, and our lives and experiences serve as testimonies to the truthful treasures in His Word. We trust that this will encourage you in your Bible study, reflection and prayers. And we hope that this will be helpful to you if you prepare a talk or lead a Bible study on Psalm 23.

The verses from Psalm 23 below are from the New International Version of the Bible. God bless you as you meditate on His Word.

Graham and Ellie

13 Responses to the Psalm 23 Challenge

 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing….

1) I am with my daughter in ICU with pneumonia. A friend from church dropped off a huge sheep fluffy doll (almost as big as my daughter!) to remind us that the Lord is our shepherd.

Today I read and sang Psalm 23 over my daughter while she lay sleeping.

I have peace and am confident that the Lord will heal her. That is evidence enough to me that the Lord is my Shepherd, (especially with Him here with us) we have all that we need

2) While my mom was so sick and dying, the winter weather held off. We had an abnormally warm and dry fall and winter, so I could drive back and forth safely and without stress over bad weather. We got our first snow storm of the winter yesterday.

3) I know the Lord as Shepherd by just being with Him in His Spirit during worship in my prayer room. He gives me everything I need to pray for others. Even when I am not able to be with people or know their hearts, I can know His heart for me and for them, and in His omnipresence He gifts me with His Word or a vision or dream how to pray for them.

     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake….

4) Several years ago, I actually took a day off to pray and ask God to lead me into my first academic position. I was sitting on my couch praying when the phone rang with the job offer here at Saint Leo. On my worst days at work (and there are some terrible days), I can never forget that God brought me here, and when I’m done with what He needs me to do, I will have another place to go..

5) I experienced the Lord restoring my soul at Bible college. Learning and connecting with new people brought perspective and healing.

6) He gave me the strength to walk away from a toxic environment/situation.

7) In her final days of life, a dear friend lost her ability to speak intelligibly.  She was in and out of sleep/consciousness but when awake seemed to be tiring herself trying to talk.  It came to me to suggest:  “Let’s say Psalm 23 together.”  I was not surprised (I’m a speech and language pathologist) but utterly delighted that she joined me in speaking nearly every word.  We also sang “Jesus Loves Me.”  These were the last words I heard her speak in this life.  Thanks be to God.

 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me….

8) I appreciate the prompts to reflection.  This well-known song of gratitude to a Shepherd that is ever present and attentive…to chide, to guide, to nurture…is a precious reminder of my living inheritance.

I was 49 when I got my cancer diagnosis and though I found myself asking “why shouldn’t it be me” rather than the other way around…still I was anxious during the 5 days between diagnosis of “aggressive cell type” and the report on the degree of spread.  One midnight in that interim when my husband and kids were asleep, I slipped out to the living room and simply expressed myself to the LORD.

Abba, I am afraid, please hold me!  And immediately I was beautifully aware of His embrace.  I did not hear a voice but I had a clear sense of His promise:

‘I am not revealing to you just now how serious this cancer is BUT I am promising you that I will stay close no matter what, to you and to your family.’

And you know, that Grace was enough and still is… For that incident the answer has been a good one.  I am cancer free for 28 years.  Now I remind myself that whatever I face in the aging process He is WITH ME.  What a gift!”

9) In November 2014 I contracted a very serious case of dengue fever which took me into a long, dark valley. At the time I wasn’t sure if I would make it safely through into the light. Many times I felt as if death was pulling at my soul. I felt that I was standing on the edge of a cliff, and that at any moment I could lose my balance and fall.

One of the most significant things about my experience of walking through that valley was knowing that God was with me. I couldn’t feel it physically, but I knew it. His presence didn’t take away the suffering, but it was deeply comforting. I knew that he had the power to intervene and to rescue me if he saw fit, to hold me back from that cliff edge. I knew that he cared for me in my pain and anxiety. I could cry out to him, plead my cause, and know that he was listening closely and with compassion, responding with love and grace. My experience of sickness showed me how personal God’s love and care is.

10) I’ve found Psalm 23 to be a great psalm for hospital visitation. A favourite for those facing death or a major crisis. A wonderful invitation to maintain a balanced and trustful lifestyle. Always relevant for all of us.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

11) For me, one blessing in the last few days has been seeing my son’s delight at getting into the engineering course he was aiming for, and seeing him grow into this new phase of his life. There’s some trepidation there (on my part!), but I’m trusting that as he journeys on these next steps, that God will be close to him and he will have many different opportunities to grow and deepen in his own life in the days ahead.

12) When we first put our hands up to do mission work, we were convinced we were on the ‘right path’ and we were to group up with a team. But that all came unravelled because of conflict within the team, and we were so confused about what God wanted us to do. We arrived to do Summer School ‘un-fresh’, full of shame, regret, a sense of failure.

But this was such an important preparation for us. It taught us that we cannot fill our own cups. I asked God to persuade me that He was anointing us for this work, that He would fill us with what we needed, that He had the power to do what He had promised. And God used the community during our time at Kangaroo Ground to restore us through grace, for His name’s sake.

Through the process of missions God anointed us and filled our cup to overflowing. He has to, because we can only give what we’ve receive from Him. We can’t share what we don’t have. Jesus calls His followers to give away freely what He has given us. We can’t help but share what we’ve been freely given. When I think of what God gives us to fill us, it blows me away.

13) I have a close friend who struggles with addiction, and I pray for her regularly and often. I can only pray for her this way because I have seen God’s love and mercy following me, chasing me, pursuing me to free me from sin whenever I have struggled or strayed. When Jesus talks about leaving the 99 sheep to go after the 1 who is lost, I know this is His heart, and I know that He has done this for me time and time again.

One of the things I pray for my friend is that God will pursue her with His goodness and love. And I can testify that I have seen God do this for her. She seems to struggle less and less as the years go by, and she is able to withstand temptation for longer periods of time. She is quicker to confess to me when she is struggling so that I can pray with her. And God answers these prayers and helps her to stand against temptation. This desire to be good, to be released from sin, is God chasing after her with His goodness. And whenever He leads me to pray for her, one of the first things that His Spirit brings to mind is that she will know how deeply God loves her.

In the presence of our enemies – the world of sin, the flesh and the devil – God anoints us to know His goodness and love and to overflow His goodness and love to others. He pursues us and surrounds us with His goodness and love so that He can welcome us into His family and dwell with Him forever. I encourage anyone who prays for those struggling to pray this way for them too.

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