Thanksgiving is a time that marks the beginning of a very special holiday season. It seems that it comes earlier each year. Or is that our age? One thing is clear: the holiday season causes us all to think about the things that matter most. We think of family, of friends, of hopes and dreams. We think about our deepest longings. We might even think about our deepest needs.
It is not wrong to think about our needs. What gets us in trouble is where we go to get our needs met. So often, family gatherings are tense times. One of the reasons is that we come to the gatherings with bad memories of how this or that person did not meet our needs. An adult son can't help but look up at the dad who is offering thanks. He sees the busy workaholic father who missed the Boy Scout badge presentation. An aging woman works alongside her daughter-in-law in the kitchen, beneath the smiles and helpful hands, is a heart that is bitter over the perception that the daughter-in-law's insecurity has divided the aging woman from her son. And so it goes. Houses brimming with apparently thankful people, but who are filled with disappointment and unmet needs.
The problem is, God wants us to take our deepest needs to Him. The hope is, when our needs are met by God, we can deal with each other with more mercy, more grace, and more forgiveness.
So what do we do? Where do we go? I offer you what I think is the perfect prescription for peace this holiday season: Psalms 23.
From the opening of David's unforgettable line, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..." the believer or seeker is led to see how this God of David's provides for the deepest needs of those who will believe.
HE PROVIDES FOR OUR PHYSICAL NEEDS
"He makes me to lie down in greed pastures, He leads me besides still waters."
David's classic Psalm is written in a familiar setting: the pastoral and serene setting of a shepherd's field. David knew this setting well, of course. The shepherd's pasture was the place where God met with David. It is the place where David's soul broke forth in composition of songs and heart felt praise. It was far from the cold stones of a formal temple. But it was far greater than any temple, any cathedral. When things went badly for David, when kings threw spears at him, when a son rose up against him, when his own sins robbed him of precious opportunity to do good and enjoy blessing, David went back to the pasture. What did he focus on? David focused on how God met the most basic of needs: physical needs. This is the God who gives green pastures, and still waters. Both are needed for healthy sheep. Sheep need good green grass to give them the nutrients they need. They need still water, because they can't or won't drink rushing water. In the pasture of God, He meets the most basic of needs.