Psalm 23 and Your Body Image

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, there’s a good chance you’ve heard (or memorized) this passage of scripture. It offers comfort when we’re scared, hope when we’re facing adversity. But, did you know this passage has a powerful message for those of us who tend to stress over weight or body image too?

Check this out.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

We have a shepherd and his name is Jesus. In fact, we have the ultimate shepherd, not just a good one.

We have a caretaker who can provide for every need we’ve ever had or will had. In fact, he even provided for our greatest need which is eternal life. His provision for our salvation is unlike any other caretaker could offer.

Why would the God of the universe who has provided for us in every way imaginable neglect our most basic of needs? Can’t we trust him to care for us, even when life feels hopeless? Even with the tests read positive or the divorce papers are imminent?

So often we read this passage and think about the applications to our lives when we face dark times. We are reminded not to be afraid, to have courage as we face adversity.

But what about when our problems aren’t that “big”?

What about when our greatest adversities are fights inside our heads over the way our bodies look?

The Good Shepherd Cares

When we wrestle anxiety, stress, and frustration spurred by our negative body image, does this same Good Shepherd have solutions for us then? Or are these problems too small for the Good Shepherd to notice?

The answer is no. Of course, the Good Shepherd cares for us.

But how does he help?

Allow me to explain:

If we can know and fully understand that our God has met all of our needs, in lean times and in plenty, then why would be strive to provide for ourselves?

Wouldn’t we be free from the pressure to look better as a way to gain acceptance from others?

If we knew the Good Shepherd every watched and cared for us, couldn’t I worry less about what people think about me, my weight, my appearance?

I’m not saying we become belligerent “body positive” activists. We should care for our bodies as the temples of the Holy Spirit. But, this perspective yields a different heart with which to approach health or fitness related tasks. We can work on our bodies as an expression of obedience and thanks to the  God who saved us. Not because we expect or need an attractive body to yield something God has already provided.

Check out this incredible Gospel-centered sermon (I’m bias- the pastor’s my husband) on the topic of Psalm 23 here.

What do you think? Does knowing the Good Shepherd has your back free you from stressing over what you look like?

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