Comfort is something many of us desire, long for, and hope for. Comfort is freedom from pain, grief, or physical distress. Most if not all of us would admit that we long for the easy life. We want to have plenty of money without working. We want to be in peak physical shape without exercising. We want to have harmony in our homes and have all of our needs met. We all want comfort, to be free from any type of discomfort that causes pain and distress.
In the middle of Psalm 23 David tells us “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (v. 4). When a man or boy became a shepherd he would pick out a piece of wood and carve it to fit his hand and strength perfectly in order to make his own rod. The rod was used as an extension of his arm and used as a weapon against the enemies of the sheep. The shepherd would throw the rod with extreme accuracy at whatever was coming to harm the sheep. This was the shepherd’s offensive weapon to protect his sheep.
The other tool the shepherd carried was his staff. This is the instrument we see in pictures typically carried by the shepherd. It is a long hooked rod that can be used in various ways to care for the sheep. Sheep have a tendency to wander off clueless of the danger they are getting themselves into. They may wander close enough to the edge of a cliff and fall, so the crook of the staff is placed around the sheep in order to draw it back from danger. The sheep may also wander into a thick patch of brambles and briers seeking the perfect mouthful of grass only to be stuck in the brier patch unable to move. The shepherd uses the crook of his staff again to pull the sheep from its stuck position.
The sheep may be so hard headed and stubborn that the shepherd may use the crook of the staff to break the leg of the sheep so it can no longer wander from the shepherd.
My God knows my heart. He knows when I need rescued, but He also knows when I need my “leg broken.” My God loves me and can see the enemy, even when I cannot see him. He throws His rod at my enemy countless times without me being aware. Which do we find greater comfort in? Which produces more growth in our lives?
Every trial we face is not necessarily because we are sinning or “lured and enticed by our own desires.” (James 1:14). We may be walking with the Lord and meet a trial because He is drawing us closer.
I am working with Lilly, our ten month old Leader Dog for the blind puppy, on walking on a leash. She struggles with walking on a loose leash. She has times of perfect contentment walking by my side, but the distractions come and she begins to strain at the leash oftentimes choking herself. I wonder how often I am walking along the path of life with God and I am straining at the leash. I wouldn’t dream of leaving God’s side to hunt for greener pastures down the cliff or in the brier patch, but just a bit outside the length of the leash would be an acceptable morsel to satisfy my misguided desires.
These acceptable morsels may be a spirit of complaining, discontent, or not being thankful. So God sends a trial to “break our leg” and draw us back even closer to Himself. Does the trial produce comfort? Not in the least. Do we stop choking on the end of the leash because we stop straining? Absolutely! As I work with Lilly and she understands how vital a loose leash is, I tighten the leash to draw her closer to my side. I have a certain spot I want her in that will eventually provide comfort to the blind person she will lead. God also has a certain spot for us that He wants us in. He continues to draw us closer to Him. This closeness is what provides the comfort.
Where are you? Where am I? Over the cliff? In the brambles and briers? Straining at the end of the leash? Walking closely by the Shepherds side? Until we get to glory, God will be drawing us closer and closer to Him. Be thankful He cares so much for you that He keeps drawing you closer.