Adonai Ro-ee, the LORD is My Shepherd

Some years ago, while working in an Atlanta office, the day began as any other day, until my boss asked us employees to come to the conference room. Something was up. No one looked happy.

My boss, Allan, asked us if we had heard about Anie over the weekend. We said no. Allan then told us that Anie had been killed in an auto accident. However, not only Anie had been killed, but also her aunt and her cousin. Gone. Olden, her husband, was down the hall in her office. Red-eyed with tears brimming. Olden told us the details: Saturday night, 10:30pm, Anie and her aunt, Benita in the front seat, Teky, her cousin in the back with Christopher, Anie’s two-year old son were leaving the shopping mall. Suddenly, they were hit by a driver under the influence of alcohol. The front of the car was gone. So were three connected lives. We wept with Olden, we prayed for Olden. Words cannot express the pain in our hearts. We were a small office, eight men, six women, now only five women. The week was a blur, focusing on how to help Olden, praying for Christopher’s surgery to repair his broken femur.

Praying to wake up from this terrible nightmare.

Anie loved her family. Her husband would bring Christopher into the office on occasion; anytime Anie had kinfolk in town, she always had them come by to meet us. Teky, her cousin, came by almost weekly, and had Christopher at her side. We shared her life. Now we share her death. Hers, Teky and Aunt Benita. Three lives, three caskets. Funerals are never easy and yet this was beyond comprehension – three caskets.

Words fail at a time like this. The shock of the tragedy; then the reality to face life when all you really want to do is go hide, to forget, to cry, to moan, to grieve, to mourn.

There is a time in our walk with the LORD when words fail; sometimes we cannot pray. Perhaps even to read God’s word seems worthless. We are empty. Void of anything. I know knowledge-wise that I should encourage myself in God’s word. Yet there is a place inside of me that I must wait for God to fill me up again. Much as I want to, I cannot fix myself.

Psalm 23 is often recited at funerals. It is a psalm of comfort, and it reminds us that we are but sheep, led by the Shepherd. There is comfort to know that Adonai Ro-ee, the LORD is my shepherd. It is He Who gives us shelter, It is He Who gives us rest. He leads us.

Verse three tells us that He restores our soul. This was been my comfort during this time of trial. Our Shepherd knows that we cannot restore our own soul. The verb form used here is one of repeated action, too. He is restoring our soul. There is a continuing work that our Shepherd does for us.

The Hebrew word for restore is shoov. Although it is widely used as repentance (t’shu-vah), it also implies restoration, as in verse three. To admit brokenness, to admit helplessness is hard to do in this “I gotta be me” culture in which we live. We want to have all the answers; we don’t want to admit frailties, pain, or emptiness. To admit that one’s faith needs strengthening is not easy.

Yet when I read verse three – He restores my soul – I am comforted to know that He will perfect that which concerns me. We cannot restore our own soul; it is He Who does the good work. He goes before us. He knows the way we will take, He will make our steps right. He will restore. He is the Perfect Shepherd. He is my Shepherd – Adonai Ro-ee.

If you are struggling with your faith, God encourages you (and I) to trust in Him with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding. In all our ways we are to acknowledge (yada in Hebrew – get to know intimately) Him and He will direct our paths.

For those who grieve, God’s word to you:

I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. – Isaiah 57:18