“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For Thou art with me…” ~Psalm 23:1-4
Several years ago I came down with a simple virus. I thought it would go away in a few days, for I had always been a very healthy person. But after a week my symptoms only grew more alarming and by the end of the month they became debilitating.
I went from a healthy active person who walked 6 miles a day, to a person who could no longer walk, use my hands, or even see to read, write or draw, for my eye muscles would go into spasms if I tried to read anything. I had to stay still in a dark room and be quiet.
This was unbearable to me for I had been so used to being active.
As a working visual artist who drew almost constantly, being unable to use my hands was like being imprisoned in my body.
I was terrified for I did not know if the illness was permanent, or even what the illness was.
Nor did my doctors. They ran numerous tests on me for every horrible disease they could think of.
I was filled with fear and anxiety.
“Lord, why is this happening? Did I grieve you somehow?”
I prayed constantly and confessed every sin I could think of –and then some, because I was certain I had done some terrible thing to make God mad at me for allowing me to become so ill and lose so many abilities. All I had ever wanted to do was glorify Him.
Now all I could do was sit in silence before Him and weep. My head hurt constantly from migraines.
I listened to audio bibles and sermons and this comforted me tremendously.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:92 “Lord, unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”
During my time alone with the Lord, I grew very close to Him. There is nothing like suffering and affliction to draw you closer to God. He spoke to my heart. He promised to heal me. I clung to His promise.
God’s word promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God” in Romans 8:28. I treasured all of the promises in His word trusting that all would be well, for God had never failed me.
All my life I had known Him to be faithful, just as His word says in Psalm 36:5 “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”
After many tests the doctors determined that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia~ auto-immune illnesses caused by the Epstein Barre virus.
It took 4 months of physical therapy before I could use my hands again to draw, paint, and write. After about a year I was able to walk almost a mile.
The second painting I did after I regained the use of my hands was a watercolor inspired by Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
The painting shows the Good Shepherd, Jesus, His face strong and steady in the
midst of a dark, blinding storm. His glowing clothes are billowing all about Him as He presses forward with nothing and no one able to stop Him or His purpose for the little one He has charge over. His frightened little child is crouching close behind Him to escape the blast of the stormy tempest.
The Lord is the child’s Shield, his Shelter, and Defender. The child clings to the Lord, as Christ leads Him through the Dark Valley of the Shadow; they are as one, they are so close together.
This image truly reflects my experience with my Lord Jesus ~ He was my Good Shepherd throughout my illness and never once failed me through my crisis of fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, weakness, and pain. He led me all the way through that horrible storm and encouraged me with His word, His love, and His presence.
The Gospel of John says that Jesus is the true light and “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” ~John 1:5
I experienced the truth of that scripture through my affliction. And the painting is my expression of its truth.
I had my painting printed and made into an Encouraging Card, which I sell in our Etsy Shop.
The card is like a mini version of my painting. On the front of this card is the verse, “The Lord is my Shepherd…I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:1,4 (Updated King James Version Bible) On the back of the card, Psalm 23 is printed along with a vignette of the cover illustration.
This card has comforted many people through many trials. So I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to experience the terrible affliction that led me to be able to paint the picture. For I would never have been able to paint it had I not experienced the suffering, fear, comfort and faith all found in that image.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to be our Good Shepherd to guide us down the path of righteousness, truth, and grace that we might live with You in peace forever. We love You, In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.