Help people align what they feel underneath what they know; help them wrestle with what is happening in their heart with what they perceive in their mind. The caring shepherd must address this discord or their sheep will scatter in disillusion. This is why most people struggle with the question of pain, “If God is loving why do I hurt?” What they know of God and what they are feeling does not line up. Pastors must feed their people’s minds or the flock will follow their unsettled heart right off a cliff.
They will follow their heart before they will follow you. When they do follow it is because they have learned that the shepherding presence calms their anxious heart, but it is still the heart that rules.
Pain and hurt and struggle and strife are important parts of life. Tribulation is necessary, it is a valley to get through and not try to get around. Everyone must learn to think through what they feel.
When their mind and heart are not aligned, ask:
1) What are you feeling right now, describe the valley of emotions?
2) What do you know about God’s promises?
3) Ask for faith to bridge the gap.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for (I know) you are with me; – Psalm 23:4
Lucas, my oldest son, and I were walking home from school. The snow was melting but a thick glaze of ice covered our path. Lucas didn’t want to fall so he grabbed my hand. Together we walked, hand in hand, across the ice and back to safety. Some of your people are in an icy spot. They can’t move forward on their own; they are close to falling. Do not underestimate the power of human touch. God has so wired our brains that physical contact with another human being;
- lessens chronic pain
- improves heart function
- lowers high blood sugar
- improves immune functions
Human tough does truly heal! A hand on the shoulder, a hug, holding the hand of faltering family members anchors them in the reality that they are not alone. It connects them to hope. The physical gesture provides an emotional and mental assurance. It is a physical manifestation of the care and compassion of the Father in heaven.
Jesus, if you are willing you can heal me…and Jesus reached out and touched him. – (Mark 1:40-41)
The local church is the Carpenter’s shop. It is full of his masterpieces resting in various stages of restoration. He ever-so-gently works at the layers of grime and filth that cover his craftsmanship. Tender are his hands. Truth and trial are his tools of choice. Time is his friend. He works with precision to reveal the masterful form and original beauty and wonderful wood-grains latent and layered by years of bad belief, false narratives,and habitual sin. Oh, it hurts. The letting go and sanding away hurts.
The longer you lay on his worktable and sit under his gentle hands the more you see that everything he does is bathed in love and grace and perfection. You might not see it now. We shall marvel at it later.
The Lord is our ‘Carpenter’…He restores our soul. Psalm 23:3