A friend of mine, I’ll call her Karen, told me a story about her horse. “Jesse” lived with my friend for several years, then Karen thought she couldn’t take care of her any longer. A friend of hers wanted Jesse and promised to give her a good home. She did, but then some damage occurred in the friend’s family and she couldn’t take care of Jesse any longer. So Jesse came back to my friend’s pasture. Jesse had been living where there were other horses so this move to a lonely field seemed to have been a difficult adjustment. Jesse just hung around in the farthest corner of the pasture away from the sheep, the stupid sheep (because, as you probably know, sheep are very stupid! They really need their shepherd). So Jesse behaved like she was depressed and lonely and confused. Meanwhile, several times a day, my friend would go out to the field, trying to attract her attention, by shaking the food bag, by calling her name, by being present. Karen watched and waited, wanting to encourage and comfort Jesse, but since Jesse kept away, she could not do so.
Finally after a week or so, the horse came down to the water trough where my friend was waiting. Jesse came, but not too close and not with enthusiasm or great expectations. Jesse’s coat needed to be combed because this is spring time and she’s shedding her winter coat. Karen began combing Jesse’s coat. Hair came off the horse’s back in wads. Karen combed and combed. Jesse began to lean into the process, even putting her head on my friend’s shoulder. And after all this loving care, Jesse’s coat began to shine beautifully, just as a well cared for horse would. Jesse began her new life that day.
How like Jesse are we! When damage comes into our lives we too react from our emotions. We may experience the hard issues of losing our former home, our friends, our way of life – or a child! The loss is difficult! It takes a huge adjustment to learn to live in our new reality. We may stay way out in the far corner of the field, away from someone who loves us. We may be surrounded by “stupid sheep” or other characters who just don’t get how much in pain we are since our loss. We may refuse help, encouragement, and comfort. But there is One who is watching and waiting for us to draw near. He is waiting patiently. He longs to stroke us and comfort us. But He can’t or won’t until we draw near to Him as He waits by the water, refreshing water. That refreshing “water” may be His Word, or a time with a friend over a cup of tea, or some good music, or some time in honest prayer-conversation with Him. He has so many ways to refresh our souls when we’re hurting.
Like Jesse, you could lean into Him because His shoulders are strong enough to take the weight of your sorrow. He is there, waiting for you, with His comforting strokes, to bring back the beauty of you, like a well cared for child of God.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:28-29