Did you know that sheep have flat backs? If one stumbles, falls, and accidentally rolls onto its back, it can’t right itself. Blood drains from its legs. Its muscles freeze. Its body starts to go into shock. A shepherd knows not to pick up the sheep abruptly. He gently rolls the sheep over, and blood returns to its limbs. Pain follows, so the shepherd lovingly massages its legs. He then rolls the sheep to its other side, repeating the process—gently, slowly, lovingly restoring the sheep. If the shepherd rushed in and abruptly picked up the sheep, the pain would be immense. The sheep would fight from the shepherd’s arms only to fall and possibly break a leg. The shepherd restores the sheep slowly.
Jesus, your loving Good Shepherd, knows the pain you’re in. He saw you stumble. He knows you fell and that you’re stuck. Like that sheep on its back, you’ve tried and cried and screamed and dreamed of getting your life righted again. But nothing has changed. Nothing has worked.
It’s so easy to charge the Good Shepherd with not restoring you fast enough. It’s so easy to accuse Christ of not caring. But he does! “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3 ESV). Jesus knows. He knows what pain is because he endured a cross for you. Jesus knows. He knows what abandonment feels like because he was forsaken by the Father on a cross. Jesus knows. He knows what you can endure. He knows how best to gently, slowly, lovingly restore you.