The sheep is bewildered. Somehow, while nibbling grass in the pasture, it got separated from the other sheep. Now, it can see neither the flock nor the shepherd. Darkness approaches. Lost in a valley where predators roam, the sheep is defenseless. Finally, it hears a familiar voice—that of the shepherd, who runs toward the sheep, picks it up, wraps it in the folds of his garment, and carries it home.
JEHOVAH repeatedly likens himself to just such a shepherd. In his Word, he assures us: “I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them.”—Ezekiel 34:11, 12.
“The Sheep That I Care For”
Who are Jehovah’s sheep? Simply put, Jehovah’s sheep are the people who love and worship him. The Bible says: “Let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his care.” (Psalm 95:6, 7) Like literal sheep following a shepherd, Jehovah’s worshippers are eager to follow their Shepherd. Are they flawless? No. God’s servants have, at times, become “scattered sheep,” “lost sheep,” and “like sheep going astray.” (Ezekiel 34:12; Matthew 15:24; 1 Peter 2:25) Even so, when a person drifts away, Jehovah does not abandon him as being beyond hope.
Do you feel that Jehovah is still your Shepherd? How does Jehovah prove to be a Shepherd today? Consider three ways:
He feeds us spiritually. “In a good pasture I will feed them,” Jehovah says. “They will lie down there in a good grazing land, and they will feed on choice pastures.” (Ezekiel 34:14) Jehovah has never failed to give us a refreshing variety of timely spiritual food. Can you think of an article, a talk, or a video that answered your prayer for help? Did it not convince you that Jehovah cares about you personally?
He protects and supports us. Jehovah promises: “The stray I will bring back, the injured I will bandage, and the weak I will strengthen.” (Ezekiel 34:16) Jehovah strengthens those weakened or overwhelmed by anxiety. He bandages his sheep, helping them to heal if they have been hurt—perhaps even by fellow believers. And he brings back those who have strayed and who may struggle with negative feelings.
He feels responsible for us. “I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered,” Jehovah says. “The lost one I will search for.” (Ezekiel 34:12, 16) To Jehovah, a lost sheep is not a lost cause. He knows when a sheep is missing, he searches for that sheep, and he rejoices when he finds it. (Matthew 18:12-14) After all, he calls his true worshippers “my sheep, the sheep that I care for.” (Ezekiel 34:31) You are one of those sheep.
To Jehovah, a lost sheep is not a lost cause. He rejoices when that sheep is found
“Renew Our Days as in Those of Old”
Why is Jehovah searching for you and inviting you to return to him? Because he wants you to be happy. He promises that “blessings will pour down like the rains” for his sheep. (Ezekiel 34:26) That is no empty promise. You have already seen the evidence firsthand.
Recall your experiences as you came to know Jehovah. For example, how did you feel when you first learned the thrilling truths about God’s name and his purpose for humans? Do you remember how refreshing it was to be united with fellow Christians at assemblies and conventions? When you were able to share the good news with someone who showed genuine interest, did you not return home happy and deeply satisfied?
You can regain those joys. “Bring us back to yourself, O Jehovah,” God’s servants of old prayed, “and we will readily return to you. Renew our days as in those of old.” (Lamentations 5:21) Jehovah answered that prayer, and his people returned to serve him with renewed joy. (Nehemiah 8:17) Jehovah will do the same for you.
Still, returning to Jehovah is easier said than done. Consider some challenges of returning and how you can overcome them.