It’s a familiar psalm, Psalm 23 is. We’ve heard it at funerals, in hospital rooms, in difficult times and not so difficult times. We’ve broken down the phrases. Shepherd. A table in the presence of my enemies.
It came to mind as I thought about what a friend said the other day. He was talking about a group of people waiting to learn about the next step in their career. They learned that they wouldn’t hear anything for another week. “When they quit refreshing their browsers,” he said, “They were able to relax and focus better.”
I thought about the difference between refreshing our browser and refreshing. When we are refreshing our browser, we are looking for something to change. And that change will cause us stress of some sort, good or bad. Whether it’s getting the results of the ongoing game, getting the placement information, finding the growing (or not growing) number of likes on our latest contribution, reading the next outrage in the political or cultural or community news, The more we click, the less refreshment we will find.
In contrast, the Psalmist suggests that the Lord shepherd will restore our souls by leading us into good places. Restore here can mean refresh. Our souls will be refreshed by still waters and green pastures and the presence of God.
I know how hard it is to imagine that kind of refreshment in our lives. I see pain and grief and death every shift I work as a chaplain, in every conversation I have about the pain people are finding in their lives.
We cannot choose the time of accidents and deaths and illnesses and the ways that other people make decisions that change our lives. We can, however, choose where we turn for refreshment. If we turn to refreshing the browser, we will increasingly find frustration. If we quiet our hearts, if we ask God to help, we can, one way or another, find refreshment for our souls.