Greetings, dear readers.
King David in Psalm 22 cries out to God: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I won't need anything. " Perhaps we think we are missing a lot in this life. We may feel unhappy and disappointed because our dreams have not come true and our hearts are broken.
We look around and think that God has given more gifts and blessings to other people. Some have received better prospects and living conditions. Others can work more skillfully with their hands: they are usually said to have "golden hands".
Others are better at expressing their thoughts and are popular speakers or writers. Although the ability to speak beautifully and to persuade people, it also helps to make useful connections in society and enjoy success with others. Someone has raised his business, and can make money out of thin air, but we are forced to earn money only for food.
When it comes to the Christian life, there are also many people who are much more spiritual than we are. They live closer to God and are more zealous for His glorification.
Indeed, we are convinced that we are far behind others. How can God say that we will “need nothing”? You know, this is due to the fact that the Lord is your and my Shepherd, because we believe in the Savior Jesus Christ. And now, we really will not need anything, because the Lord Himself cares for us.
We don't need to find our way, because He will lead us. We do not need to defend ourselves, because God is “my stronghold and protection”. We do not have to worry trying to provide for ourselves, because God will meet all our needs through Jesus Christ. Since we are children of God, we do not have to remain in poverty. And I'm not just talking about material wealth. After all, we share in the spiritual wealth and completeness of God. The Lord wants to take care of us in everything: our spiritual, mental and physical needs.
Our Good Shepherd
John 10: 11-14 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. But a mercenary, not a shepherd, to whom the sheep are not his own, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and runs; and the wolf plunders the sheep and scatters them. And the mercenary runs, because he is a mercenary, and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know Mine, and Mine know Me."
God often in the Bible appears before us in an earthly image, so that for us His character is clearer and closer. Therefore, we will consider the image of the Israeli shepherd through which Jesus Christ is revealed to us.
The shepherd had a bag in which he carried provisions and a sling (an ancient hand weapon for throwing stones). He used a sling to protect the sheep. He had a rod and a staff. With a rod, the shepherd protected the flock from wolves and robbers. And with the staff he guided the sheep.
No flock grazed without the supervision of a shepherd. Since the grass was scarce, the sheep moved from one pasture to another, and needed constant supervision. The pastures were not surrounded by fences, so the sheep could run away and get lost. Also, the shepherd protected the sheep from thieves, robbers and wolves. Each of them wanted to profit from weak and defenseless sheep. Moreover, they were never distinguished by intelligence and ingenuity.
In Israel, sheep were raised for wool, not meat. The shepherd gave names to the sheep and knew each one by name. He was like a door to a corral for them. There were two types of sheepfolds in Palestine at that time. In villages and towns, there were common corrals in which all the herds spent the night. They had solid doors, the key to which was held only by the gatekeeper.
When the sheep were far in the hills during the warm season, and did not return to the villages at night, they were collected in corrals on the slopes of the hills. These pens were open-air, and were protected only by a wall of stones with a hole in it through which the sheep could enter and leave. And there were no doors in it. At night, the shepherd himself lay down across the entrance, and not a single sheep could go out except by stepping over it. In the most literal sense, the shepherd became the door: "Truly, truly, I say to you that I am the door of the sheep."
In the morning he took the sheep out to the pasture, and in the evening before entering, he examined each one, healed the wounds, anointed them with oil, and only after that let them into the corral. He stayed awake night and day to protect the sheep, to feed and care for them.
In Israel, shepherds walked in front of the sheep and guided them with a staff and voice, not with a whip or stick. Sheep differ from other herd animals in that they always follow the shepherd in front of the flock. Sheep know and listen to the voice of their shepherd. Their hearing is especially developed and they rely entirely on it. Without a shepherd, the flock cannot find a pasture on its own, and without him it will simply perish.
Rich sheep breeders could have several flocks of sheep, and then these people took mercenary shepherds. But the mercenaries could not be completely relied on, because they only worked for the money. When a predator or robber attacked, the mercenary ran away and left the herd. Only a real shepherd could risk himself for the flock, because for him it was a calling, not just a job. The mercenary worked for money. The true shepherd risked his life and laid it down for his sheep.
King David, who wrote Psalm 22, knew Christ as his Shepherd, since he himself was a shepherd. He not only believed, but experienced the Lord's personal concern for his needs.
The Lord Feeds Spiritual Needs
In psychology, Maslow's pyramid was developed. It is called the “pyramid of needs”, which is a hierarchical model of human needs. It is a presentation of the ideas of the American psychologist Abraham Maslow. This pyramid reflects one of the most popular and well-known theories of human motivation.
Maslow distributed the needs in decreasing order of importance, explaining this construction by the fact that a person cannot have high-level desires while he needs lower things.
At the base of the pyramid are physiological needs: satisfying hunger, thirst, sexual desire, etc. A step higher is the need for security, above it is the need for affection and love, as well as for belonging to a social group.
The next step is the desire for respect and approval, above which Maslow placed cognitive needs: the thirst for knowledge and consumption, as much information as possible.
Next comes the need for aesthetics: the desire to harmonize life, to fill it with beauty and art. And finally, the last step of the pyramid, the highest, is the striving for the disclosure of inner potential or self-actualization.
It is important to note that, in his opinion, each of the needs does not have to be fully satisfied - partial fulfillment is enough to move on to the next step.
But what Maslow did not take into account in his theory is the most important thing - the truth, so his theory falls apart in the realities of spiritual experience and human life.
Matthew 4: 4 "But he answered him: it is written: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
This is the answer of the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. No one and nothing can satisfy the spiritual hunger of our essence, except for our Creator. Therefore, man cannot achieve happiness without God and build heaven on earth. The Good Shepherd rests us in the pastures of the Word of God and leads us to the quiet waters of prayer in the Holy Spirit to nourish the human spirit.
Christ came to this earth so that we can have an abundant life, which He told the woman at the well. And he showed the way how to worship God in spirit and truth.
When Jesus passed through Samaria, He got tired of the long journey and sat down by the well. At this time, a woman came from Samaria to draw water. Jesus asked to drink him. And the Samaritan woman expressed her surprise because the Jews did not communicate with them.
But Christ turned to her main spiritual need and said that if she knew who was talking to her, she would ask Him for living water. He explained to her that people satisfy only their physical and mental needs, so they will always crave and remain unsatisfied.
But the one who will drink the living water that He gives will find a spiritual and eternal source of living water within his spirit. Therefore, the Word of God and prayer are the unchanging sources of spiritual life and growth in grace.
The Shepherd Strengthens My Soul
What makes me sad is that the spiritual needs of the people are often ignored in the church. After all, they are interconnected with the spiritual nature of man. Our thoughts and feelings are the outer barometer of our inner spiritual life.
You know, I think that sometimes we go too far and become “super spiritual heroes” who don't have ordinary human emotions. But in our heart are all thoughts and feelings, intuition and conscience.
Proverbs 4: 21-23 "My son! Listen to my words, and incline your ear to my words; let them not depart from your eyes; keep them within your heart: for they are life for the one who found them, and health for his whole body. Keep your heart most of all that is kept, for from it are the sources of life."
The heart is the place where all the mental processes of a person are carried out, where all the motives of human actions and behavior arise. This is the center of the essence of man and his being.
In Christian circles in our time, not only the feelings of a person are rejected, but also cordial relations. Christ said: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Is love only a choice or a decision of the will? Isn't our feelings of love for each other important? Only a kind attitude towards neighbors and deeds of mercy change something in this world.
Think how many people in churches are lonely and deeply depressed. How many Christians have experienced physical and mental abuse. How many broken hearts and wounded emotions. We send our parishioners to non-believing psychologists and psychotherapists because we do not know how to help them.
I am very glad to see that counseling is developing in some churches. Christian counselors care for broken hearts and devastated souls.
We cannot be callous to the inner core of believers. How long have we been honestly interested in the life of another Christian and asked: "How are you?" Not just: “How are you?”, And without waiting for an answer, they continued to move on. How does he feel? What is his inner spiritual life? Does he have a close relationship with God and other people?
I understand that this is not accepted in the Christian environment. After all, we believe that the state of our heart should be revealed only to God. We do not trust our neighbors, because they can spread the rumor that we are not as spiritual people as we seem. This is why there are so few sincere and emotional relationships in our churches.
2 Peter 2:25 "For you were like a wandering sheep, having no shepherd, but you have returned now to the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls."
But for us all is not lost, because Christ is the Shepherd and Keeper of our souls. We can come to Him at any time with our pain and doubts. On Him we lay our worries and fears. From Jesus we learn how to serve our brothers and sisters with love and self-sacrifice.
The Shepherd Provides Physical Needs
Psychologist Abraham Maslow correctly identified the mental and physical needs of a person. But I set my priorities incorrectly, and did not realize the deep spiritual thirst for our essence.
But some Christians turn away completely from the physical needs of others. They believe that only spiritual reality should prevail in the life of believers, because everything connected with the physical body refers to sin. The denial of one's organism and physiological needs, as something earthly and base, throws Christians to another false extreme.
Such brothers will say that science and new technologies are the intrigues of the evil one, and that taking care of one's material needs is selfishness. But Jesus Christ took care not only of the souls of people, but also of their bodies: he fed the hungry, healed the sick and helped the poor.
Our daily bread
I recently studied a book by a scholar on the emotional life of a person. And in it he gives statistics about children who grew up in dysfunctional families, where they did not have the essentials for life. Such children grow up anxious and unbalanced, because they were constantly starving and living in poverty.
He writes that poverty itself badly affects the emotional sphere of children: children from poorer families at the age of five are more fearful, anxious and sad than their wealthy peers and their behavior creates more problems, such as frequent outbursts of irritation and damage to things.
The oppression of poverty also disfigures the life of the family: there is much less parental warmth, a more oppressed state of mothers, who are often single and unemployed, and a greater likelihood of harsh punishments such as abuse, beatings and threats of physical violence.
Of course, I do not believe that wealth can make people happy, but poverty, for sure, does not ennoble a person's soul. The Lord promises that He will give us everything we need for a “normal” and godly life. And we will not be lacking in anything.
Therefore, God showed us a way to bring our needs to Heavenly Father in prayer. We need to open our needs in the secret of our hearts to Him: "Give us this day our daily bread." We do not need to worry about everything, but it is important to pray to God because He knows our problems before we ask Him.
If we ask our father for bread, will he throw us a stone? If our physical parents care about us, then all the more our Heavenly Father will give the earthly benefits that we need.
In conclusion, I want to write that as long as we remain in the arms of Jesus Christ, no sin can separate us from God. Our saving Shepherd cleanses us completely. His blood penetrates to the very depths of our hearts and makes our soul white as soon as snow falls.
No amount of Satan's attacks can destroy us, because the Good Shepherd protects us. With His rod, He drives away from us enemies who want to destroy our soul. When God allows us to be afraid, it is only so that we can get even closer to Him.
We bring on many difficulties because we ourselves want to be what the Shepherd is to us. We really want to do everything on our own and go our own way, so we make plans and set goals without Him.
But if we could open our eyes and see who He really is. Then we would see the staff in His hand, with which He guides us on His path of righteousness. And they would find that we no longer need anything in a close relationship with Christ.