A note from Kelly King: I think most of us would agree that Psalm 23 is one we are familiar with and know. Yet how many times do you find the joy in Psalm 23? In today’s article, Kaye Hurta helps us see joy in the midst of a familiar passage. And if you’re looking to dive deeper, you will want to check out a new Bible study from Jennifer Rothschild called Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me. It will be available for August—just in time for your fall Bible study. You will also have the opportunity to hear Jennifer at this year’s Women’s Leadership Forum November 8-10.
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand people’s love for Psalm 23. I used to think of it as a funeral psalm or a psalm for “older” people. Yes, I know, I’m exposing my shallow, immature side. I no longer feel that way about Psalm 23. I guess that means I’m deep and mature now! Hardly! How did my feelings for this beloved psalm change? It changed when I experienced a season of difficulty and brokenheartedness and the Lord used it to comfort my soul and heal my heart.
Next week I’ll write about the brokenhearted part, but for today I want to talk about joy. It is the fourth of July weekend, and hopefully you are celebrating freedom and having fun with family and friends. As you read this, that’s just what I’m doing!
If you, or someone you know is hurting, may I recommend choosing to suspend your pain and hurt for a moment and choose joy? In fact, imagine putting all that concerns you in a shoebox. Put the lid on. Carry that shoebox to your closet and put it on the highest shelf. You can come back for it later. Now turn around, walk away, and choose joy. Allow yourself to enjoy the laughter of family and friends. Gift yourself with fun and food or quiet reflection. Enjoy a walk outside and drink in the voice of God through the beauty of creation. Suspend pain, and choose joy.
What does this have to do with Psalm 23? Take a moment and read it now; it’s short:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
(NIV, emphasis mine)
My cup overflows. Three little words that land like life and joy on a hurting heart. The psalmist just described walking through a dark valley and being surrounded by his enemies (in this case, our pain), and his take away is this: my cup overflows. How is that possible? I can offer two answers: 1. Only God. And 2. He chose it.
He chose to lean into to all that God had to offer him in his pain. He chose the gift of His presence in the pain, and as a result, his cup overflows. He chose joy. He traded his sorrow for dancing. Was his pain gone? Nope. Will yours disappear? Nope. Can your cup still overflow? Yep. Choose it today. At least for a moment, let your cup overflow with the goodness of His presence. Choose joy.
If you are having a hard time with this because you’re not sure of God’s presence, tell Him honestly. Have a conversation with Him; tell Him how you feel and ask Him to help you. He loves you, He is for you, He sees you, and He is listening.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.