Where did they go?

A poignant question, when loved ones pass away. And the question is even more disquieting if—as with the victims of recent tragedies—people are missing as the result of sudden violent events. In these cases, families grieve that they cannot see their loved ones for one last time.

Yet, at the funerals or memorial services connected with these events, we so often hear the 23rd Psalm, with these words of consolation: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me." In the Bible, these words are preceded by "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Here the shepherd, who in Biblical times had an important role maintaining the safety of the flock, is God, who keeps His children well fed and safe.

But is the Shepherd still there if something happens, and the sheep don't make it? Is there comfort, even then, rather than loneliness, or extinction? The psalm reassuringly says that the Shepherd, God, who never ceases to exist, is always there—even in the valley.

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November 12, 2001

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