By David Stahl


         In the Psalms David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4  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.”  (Psalms 23:1-4) Now I will be honest when I have read these verses from the Scriptures in the past I have not had total comprehension from the LORD. After all how can a three foot piece of metal used for measuring and a six foot long staff made of wood used for herding bring comfort to someone?  How could a piece of metal and a piece of wood bring the comfort of the LORD to us?  Yes I do understand how discipline of the LORD comes to correct us and as it corrects and realigns our expectation with what God is looking for in our lives there comes a calming and relaxation of our spirit, but how does metal and wood bring comfort?  Well as God always does in His time and in His way He always brings understanding.  Pastor Victor Foster and I spent 10 wonderful days on the road in ministry of which seven were in steamy Hyderabad, India and surrounding cities and villages. What a wonderful time we had as we traveled over 1,830 miles on India’s treacherous roads.  On each trip out from Hyderabad we saw the aftermath of deadly accidents; vehicles rolled on their side in the fields or in gullies, car crushed by buses, and even dead bodies laying on the road from a recent accident.  God was very gracious to us as the miles clicked by and if you couple the high temperatures: 101 to 105F during the heat of the day with 100 to 120% humility with the ever present danger (we had a few encounters) from the Hindu and Islamic extremist, God was greatly looking out for us. But as we were driving to the BHG Conference (one of four) in Raghunathapalen we came upon a TATA truck and in the back was a load of about 25 goats and a shepherd. In the hand of the shepherd was light weight wooden switch and as the goats would get excited and try to jump out of the back of the truck the shepherd would pop the goat on top of its head.  The goat would calm down and get back into his position in the herd.  As the shepherd quieted one goat another goat would rise up in fear and alarm and the good shepherd would pop him on the head and quiet its fears.  One goat after the other tried jumping out of the back of the truck, but the loving shepherd knew if they succeeded they would be killed on the road so the good shepherd used his wooden switch to comfort the goats.  As I watched this play out in front of me the LORD brought Psalms 23:4 to my memory and said, “see how I can comfort you, even if I need to use a switch?” In the speaking came the revelation knowledge of what I was watching the shepherd comforting the goats as God brings comfort to us with His rods and His staff.  Now I would believe God’s rod is not three feet long nor is His staff six feet long.  God uses difference measuring sticks in our lives to comfort us.  Peter tells us to,                                                 

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  (1 Peter 5:6-7)  I wonder what “the mighty hand of God” looks like?

In the life of Joseph “the mighty hand of God” was his brothers.  As  a matter of fact “the mighty hand of God” can be anything God uses to humble us, because like the good goat shepherd in the back of the TATA truck, “he careth for you.”  God has His ways and means to comfort us, but all come by way of us humbling ourselves before the LORD. If the goats would not have calmed down the good shepherd would thump them harder on the head until they got the message, relax, calm down, all is well.  So too in our lives God is saying, “calm down, relax all is well no matter the situation or circumstance in your life.  I see the world situations they are of my doing,  I know what I am doing, fear not, be of good cheer, all is well.”  But we will never hear this message of comfort if we cannot endure the occasional pop on the head by the LORD by one of His rods or staffs.  We do not like to be corrected or disciplined, but David seemed to look forward to it.  maybe he knew something about God’s correction and His comfort.  David knew of the “valley of the shadow of death”  time and time again God delivered him from things in his life.  It seems the comfort of the LORD leads right through the “valley of the shadow of death.” Even the restoring of our soul and the leading in paths of righteousness for His name sake come out of being comforted by the LORD.  Strange how this works in our lives, well not so strange if you really think about it God is God and we are not.             

         As we traveled the many miles, as the temperature soared, and as we encountered obstacles in our way yet in the back of my spirit I could hear the Holy Spirit speak words of comfort to me.  It was the miles, the heat, the obstacles, and so much more  that enabled the Holy Spirit to speak comfort to me.  Strange how we reject such dealings from God, but expect to receive comfort from the LORD. Well God does not operate that way.  It is like God’s mercy and His judgment. We want God’s mercy without His judgment, but without judgment God will never know how much mercy to give.  So too with comfort. Without the fears, problems, hard times, and even times of suffering persecution and loss,  God will not know how much comfort to give us.  You see collectively my fear (as David felt all along his way) was I would not return to my sweet and beautiful wife.  You see the last time I was in India was back in 2006, then I did not leave in victory.  In my opinion I left with my tail between my legs, sick (high blood pressure), and in great distress due to my weight, but now nine years later and in better shape I left in victory, hearing God speak as we traveled well over 20,000 miles (planes and ground vehicles) “come and go as planned”  and then as the airplane touched down at the airport in Raleigh, NC after 20 hours of flight,  “mission complete.” Mile after mile, moment by moment, and second by second I would hear God speak comfort to me by Him saying, “come and go as planned” or “all the way home” then He would speak, “all is well my son.”  What wonderful words of assurance and comfort spoken to my spirit, no matter the situation and circumstance we found ourselves in, I would beseech the LORD and with a resounding, clarion and comforting call I would hear in my spirit, “come and go as planned”  and we did.  Yes David knew something about comfort and on this trip to India this David too learned something about the comfort of God.