We often celebrate the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with the five loaves and two fish. What we often forget (and I was reminded tonight as I read the kids their Bible story) is that this event occurred when Jesus was trying to get to a "deserted place by Himself." He had just received the news that His dear friend and cousin, John the Baptist, had been murdered, and He was no doubt seeking a place to be alone and mourn. Jesus was hurting. Nevertheless, as He looked out across the great multitude following Him, He was "moved with compassion toward them." Despite His own pain, He couldn't just ignore them. Has there ever been anyone more selfless than Jesus? (That's a rhetorical question. We know the answer, don't we?)
I have heard it said that "pastors are hurting people ministering to hurting people." Life is hard. Pastors are like everyone else. We hurt. We struggle. We experience disappointment. We get disillusioned. There are times when we must find solitude to mourn, to take stock, to rest. But what keeps us coming back? The multitudes. Sheep without a shepherd. Hurting every bit as much as us (and many of them more so). Pastor, keep shepherding. Even when you hurt, keep shepherding. Even when life gets hard, keep shepherding. "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will not fade away."