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  • Writer's pictureLogan Hagoort

Clearer Sight of Christ in the Shadows

a man sick in bed

My dear sheep. If you haven't heard yet, like some of you, I have been wrestling with the flu. It seems to be a particularly bad one this year! I am very grateful for your prayers and the encouraging messages I have received. While wrestling with fevers, struggling with coughs, and fighting for breath, one is provided with plenty of time to ponder life under the sun.

Last night, as I was struggling to breathe without breaking into a coughing fit, I got to meditating upon Psalm 23. I have often commented to people about the wonderful presence and shifting of pronouns in the psalm. This is well worth spending some time meditating upon. However, what I want to draw your attention to is that blessed fourth verse, where David says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

As I have walked through a minor affliction (flu), what has struck me is the nearness of my Shepherd. The reality of the presence of the shepherd is that the very place of our sufferings and afflictions is also the very place of divine communion. All the while we sit in comfort and peace (1-3) we refer to the shepherd in the third person, the "shepherd over there", but when we are drawn into suffering and affliction, all of a sudden we are made to realise, "Thou art with me!"

Some of you are suffering from afflictions far worse than the flu. Some of you have pains and sorrows that seem more like a valley of death, not just the shadow of death. Let me encourage you. Look to your faithful Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. May the place of your sorrow also be the place of fresh visions of your beloved Shepherd and Saviour.

Let me finish with the words of the wonderful George Matheson, the blind Presbyterian Minister:

There is a time coming in which your glory shall consist in the very thing which now constitutes your pain. Nothing could be more sad to Jacob than the ground on which he was lying, a stone for a pillow! It was the hour of his poverty. It was the season of his night. It was the seeming absence of God. The Lord was in the place and he knew it not. Awakened from his sleep he found that the day of his trial was the dawn of his triumph! Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their prosperity and they will say, “It was the cold ground on which I was lying.” Ask Abraham; he will point you to the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Ask Joseph; he will direct you to his dungeon. Ask Moses; he will date his fortune from his danger in the Nile. Ask Ruth; she will bid you build her monument in the field of her toil. Ask David; he will tell you that his songs came from the night. Ask Job; he will remind you that God answered him out of the whirlwind. Ask Peter; he will extol his submersion in the sea. Ask John; he will give the path to Patmos. Ask Paul; he will attribute his inspiration to the light which struck him blind. Ask one more!–the Son of God Ask Him whence has come His rule over the world: He will answer; ‘From the cold ground on which I was lying–the Gethsemane ground–I received my sceptre there.’ Thou too, my soul, shall be garlanded by Gethsemane! The cup thou fain wouldst pass from thee will be thy coronet in the sweet by and by. “The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is thy desert that will break forth in the singing. It is the trees of thy silent forest that will clap their hands. The last things will be first, in the sweet by and by. The thorns will be roses. The vales will be hills. The crooks will be straight lines, the ruts level. the shadows will be shining. The losses will be promotions. The tears will be tracks of gold. The voice of God to thine evening will be this: ‘Thy treasure is hid in the ground, where thou wert lying.

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