Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
No one is helping C.J. No one cares for his soul. He is like a sheep without a shepherd. I feel great compassion for him. Darkness and misery are his constant companions but he does not know why. He lives in a pit of despair but cannot get out. He laments the loss of companions but sees no fault in himself (Psa 88:8, 18).
There are no shepherds in C.J.’s life to help restore his soul. Green pastures and living waters are far from him. His soul is full of darkness and his life is full of trouble but he views this as God’s mysterious plan for the godly and mature. He can acknowledge no wrong and take no responsibility for this anguished state.
As I listened to C.J.’s three recent messages from Solid Rock Church, I felt an overwhelming sense of empathy for his lostness. For his cluelessness. For his blindness. I say this will great tenderness. He does not see his sin, only his suffering. He does not see what he has done, only what he thinks has been done to him. He has defined his life in terms of a victim. When in greatest need of shepherds, he only has enablers. No one will speak truth that will set him free.
In his first message, C.J. shares no personal illustrations of self-righteousness or moral superiority (so evident for so long) with his church family. In the second message, he views his many trials, hardships, and sufferings as due to persecution. In the third message, he is abandoned by friends and feels abandoned by God due to no fault of his own.
He is the persecuted one. The suffering servant. He sees none of this as due to God’s discipline in his life. He avoids verses 7 and 16 in Psalm 88. His trials are only due to God’s mysterious plan for the godly and the mature. He sees no relation between root and fruits or between sowing and reaping. He is lost. He does not understand why his life is full of suffering and pain. This affects me deeply and compassionately. I want to see him well and prospering.
C.J. uses a bifocal lens through which to interpret his life. That which has been done to him and that which God has mysteriously willed for him. Nothing is due to his sin. He is the victim. Others the victimizers. Friends have abandoned him. He has not abandoned friends. God is distant though C.J. steadfastly obeys.
If only C.J. humbled himself and saw how he has lived and what he has done; the despair would flee, the darkness would lift, reconciliation would occur with former friends and God would draw near. Please pray that Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, provide genuine care for C.J.’s harassed and helpless soul.
 A Surprising Punch Line, Luke 18:9-14, March 18; A Surprising Command, James 1:1-4, March 25; A Surprising Prayer, Psalm 88, April 1.