Acts 2:25-26 I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.
This is Peter quoting David in Psalm 16. Peter, who betrayed Jesus, who just a few weeks before this event wept bitterly and wanted to give up. Peter, whom the Lord personally and gently set back on the path of service and care of others.
“I see that the Lord is always with me.” That’s the heart of our hope, isn’t it? David said it again in the “Shepherd psalm,” Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me (Psalm 23:4). And one psalm back, For the Lord has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help (Psalm 22:24). And in the lament of Psalm 25, Feel my pain and see my trouble . . . for I put my hope in you (v. 18 and 21). And Psalm 33:18-22, We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield . . . Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
A friend asked, what happened next, after the waiting room story I posted yesterday? If you’ve read Karis, All I See Is Grace, you know that God worked in a stunning way through that surgery I didn’t want my little girl to have to endure if even the doctor didn’t know how it would help her. I’ll quote from p. 11, but it went deeper than this, to fulfillment of a vision given to a friend when Karis was an infant as well as freeing us to move to Brazil.
Watching Karis over the next few months was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. She bounced back from surgery so fast we were able to take her home from the hospital in time for Christmas. She started eating all kinds of real food, and growing so quickly I could hardly keep her in clothes that fit. Within four months she grew four inches and gained ten pounds! She was back on the growth chart.
Karis’s energy returned. Soon she was running around and playing with Danny and Rachel, conquering developmental milestones in which she had lagged. It was like watching a wilted little flower blossom in a spring rain. Almost every day, Karis ran to find me and exclaimed, “Mommy, nothing hurts!”
What I want to say through this is that when we’re in the middle of really tough times and are tempted to despair, the one thing we can absolutely count on is that our Shepherd is with us, feeling our pain, but from the perspective of one who already knows the end of the story.
So I decided to go ahead with posting the next vignette, which I called “The Shepherd.” I hope it will encourage you. It’s another surgery waiting room, when I didn’t yet know the end of that particular story. Yet God sent someone to encourage me. Karis was eleven; this waiting room was in Detroit.
Dave stayed with our other three children in São Paulo, Brazil while Karis and I traveled to Detroit for surgery. Visitors came from several nearby supporting churches, including Lolly the Clown, AKA Ruth, a second-grade teacher from the town of Oregon near Toledo, who later went to Brazil to teach in our children’s school.
Rita, a new believer in a Detroit church, decided to sit with me for a while in the surgical waiting room. From a rough background, she wanted to know the secret behind Karis’s friendly cheerfulness and apparent lack of anxiety about facing major surgery. “I would be freakin’ terrified.”
Like I am, I thought but didn’t say.
“What’s that verse she was telling me before they took her away?” Rita asked.
I had missed their conversation but knew Karis had been reading Isaiah. I hazarded a guess. “Was it Isaiah 26:3? You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you . . .”
“No. Something about a shepherd.”
“Oh. Maybe 40:11? He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”
“That’s it! Karis told me three things about that verse. First, this surgery might allow her to eat, her Shepherd’s way of feeding her. Second, she’s safe in his arms. The third, she said, was the most important.”
“What was the third?”
“Her Shepherd gently cares for you, too.”