Jesus always had time for the person who was going through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). We need pastors and other spiritual leaders, serving as under-shepherds of the great shepherd, who have some scars, identifying them as ones who readily feel compassion for the scarred, scattered and shattered, who see no hope.
Such leaders know that as they walk with the suffering through painful, dark valleys they are not alone, and need not fear, for God is with them. They become the hands and feet of the great shepherd. They become the embodiment of the compassionate love of God.
The rod is the shepherd’s club that he uses to keep the sheep in line. The staff symbolizes security, protection, and perhaps the nearness of God. The rod and staff applied might not be what those walking through the valley of the shadow of death want, but when God administers them through His servants they provide comfort to the hurting and grieving.
Walking with those experiencing excruciating trials is demanding and emotionally draining. Supporting them in prayer and offering help encourages both. It is a unique way to administer God’s grace. Paul describes this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who die, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have died in him…Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Comfort comes through those who care for the hurting as Jesus did.