Summary: 3rd in a 6 part series on surviving stress. This series uses the popular "Survivor" TV show as a "hook" and Psalm 23 as the Biblical foundation.
SURVIVING EMOTIONAL PAIN
Sometimes this life can hurt us so badly that it actually hurts to hurt. There can come times when the wound is so deep we wonder if healing is even possible. In the movie, Minority Report, John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise is with his wife and a young girl named Agatha. John and Laura, several years before, had lost their 6 year old son, Sean... kidnaped and murdered. In the scene we are about to see Agatha, who is a type of “seerer” recounts what little Sean’s life would of been like had he lived and in doing so reopens wounds of loss, grief and deep emotional pain.
Minority Report Chapter 20: 1:56:56 - 1:59:02
What is it in this life that has hurt you deeply? Loss of a loved one? The pain of a failure? The shame of a sin? The hurt from another? This morning, more than anything else, I want you to know that God loves and hurts with you. He wants to help you deal with all of your pain. He wants to aid you in handling whatever is hurting your heart today. In other words, as David the author of the 23rd Psalm says, He wants to “restore your soul.”
David knew the need for the Lord to be his restoration because David had times in his life where he hurt too. He had tasted disappointment in being hurt by others, he had felt defeat when he seriously sinned, he knew the despair of losing a loved one, his own child. And maybe you haven’t experienced a deep hurt yet but odds are you will. And we can all learn from what David writes here. Because when he allowed the Shepherd to restore him then his life was completely transformed for the better. And the great news is that the same restoration is promised for us today.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF RESTORATION:
First, let’s understand this principle of restoration. When David writes “He restores my soul,” he once again writes from a shepherd’s perspective for that’s what he was. Anytime you look at the Bible it helps to be able to understand the words in the context of the writer’s viewpoint. The Hebrew word for “restore” literally means to return to a right place. It has the connotation of rescuing or renewing. David is making the point that God wants to return our lives... our emotions, our relationships, our hearts & minds, to the right place. Because the word “soul” here is referring to our inner being, our hearts. He is saying that God will return our deepest selves to a right place with Him if we will allow Him to.
And David certainly understood that from a Shepherd context because he understood the work of a shepherd. Sometimes restoration was needed because a sheep would become what is called “cast down.” Author, Phillip Keller writes: “A “cast down” sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to get up, without success. It will bleat out for help in frightened frustration. If the shepherd does not arrive on the scene within a reasonably short time, the sheep will die. This is why it is so essential for a shepherd to look over his flock every day, making sure they are up on their feet. If even one is missing the first thought to flash to the shepherd’s mind is “One of my sheep is cast down somewhere. I must go in search of it and set it on its feet again.”
But it’s not only the “cast-down” sheep that need restoring, but also the constantly wandering sheep. Haddon Robinson tells that when a shepherd took his sheep out to graze that often, one of the sheep would become interested in a tuft of grass here and another there and another. Finally, without realizing, it discovers it has wandered away from the flock. The shepherd that night counts the sheep when they come into the fold: “96-97-98-99" and discovers one is missing. And so leaving his flock in the care of a trusted friend he moves out into the darkness. As he walks he calls out and listens for the cry of the sheep. Finally, out in the darkness, he hears the bleating of this lost one. He goes to it, puts it on his shoulders and brings it back to the fold. Occasionally, Robinson says, a shepherd will have one sheep that night after night when he counts them- 97-98-99- the same one has wandered away. If he has a name I suspect it might be Tim Smith. Night after night the shepherd goes out and finds it and puts it on his shoulders and carries it back. Then, after this has occurred again and again, the shepherd will do a rather strange thing. He’ll go out in the darkness, find the sheep and then when he gets it back home he’ll break its leg and puts that leg in a splint. The next day the sheep is helpless. It cannot walk and so the shepherd will pick it up and carry it. After a time the leg begins to heal. But still the sheep is helpless. The smallest stream is a giant river, the tiniest knoll a mountain. So whenever they reach an obstacle the shepherd reaches down and lifts the sheep across. After a time that leg is healed but the sheep has learned a very valuable lesson. He has learned to stay close to the shepherd’s side.