When Shade is Scarce

Gwen SmithBlog 19 Comments

The sun’s intensity pushed me toward any shaded spot I could find. We were just south of the Judean desert, close to the Dead Sea, in Israel. And it was H-O-T, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot. From the heights of Masada, we were able to see for miles. Beige and brown. An eye-full of arid. Heights and depths. Dust and dirt. Almost no life, save that of a few date palms. The smatterings of shade I found made the desert heat less draining and more bearable, but those pockets of reprieve were hard to come by.

The writer of Psalm 102 was looking for shade as well. (Pause now to read Psalm 102 in its entirety if possible!)

4 “My heart is suffering, withered like grass;
I even forget to eat my food.
5 Because of the sound of my groaning,
my flesh sticks to my bones.
6 I am like an eagle owl,
like a little owl among the ruins.
(Psalm 102:4-6).

The psalmist wanted a reprieve from the scorching heat of discouragement, pain, toxic relationships and unrest. He felt abandoned by God. Forgotten. Crushed. Broken in spirit and body.

I’ve walked through some arid, scorching deserts of life over the years too. The agony of watching my dad suffer from cancer was excruciating. Feelings of helplessness bullied the faith I fought to hang on to. Questions led the dialog in my mind. Gone were the days of plenty. Gone were the days of strength. The desert of my dad’s suffering was brutal and cruel.

And as much as I hated the distress and desolation cancer brought to my family, I held tight to the provision and compassion of God.

Psalm 102 is an honest cry for help from a hurting human. The author was in a major life pit. A depressing, broken place of agony. And he threw down quite the lament as he poured out his pain before God. After emptying his heart of angst, however, we see a major change take place when he shifted from focusing on his challenges to focusing on his Creator.

25 “Long ago you established the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will endure;
all of them will wear out like clothing.
You will change them like a garment,
and they will pass away.
27 But you are the same,
and your years will never end.”
(Psalm 102:25-27).

Ah! I see this and take note.

When shade is scarce and pockets of reprieve are hard to come by, we can find comfort and strength knowing that our unchanging God is active, responsive and merciful. “The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand” (Psalm 121:5 NIV).

We can rest in the promise that the One who laid the foundations of the earth in the beginning remains the same and will one day make all things new for those who know and love Him.


Compassionate Creator, Thank You for being my Shade in every desert. You hear me and are responsive even in times when I feel forgotten, discouraged and abandoned. Help this truth inform my heart and hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



What has you desperate for shade today? How does it encourage you to know that God will shield you from pains and strains when you call out to Him as your Shade?

Let’s pray together today. Meet us in the comments section to share your heart and pray for one another.

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Comments 19

  1. 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    Jesus as the light leads us to love one another as one of God’s two most important commandments. God says that we should outdo each other in this love, this love that begins with Jesus as our Savior, as though we ARE Jesus in this life. There is no part of Christ’s body that is toxic, it’s only the absence of love that creates such a place of toxicity and the reason that God calls us into Jesus as our Light. God bless you.

  2. Asking for prayers for my oldest daughter Victoria…she’s had some serious health issues for the last few years but she was never able to get the testing she needed…she’s been on a limited diet due to digestive problems. Every 2 weeks she has to go to the clinic for updates and more testing for kidney and now liver and pancreas due to possible intolerance to Omega 6 acids(?)… ultrasound is in the near future in Anchorage in April along with an appointment with an allergist…she knows where her strength comes from…🙏🙏🙏…thank you everyone for your prayers on her behalf…❤️

  3. I am watching my mom suffer from dementia and Parkinsons among many other diseases and my heart breaks when I see her crying.
    Dear God: my mom needs your shade today. Please alleviate her pain and suffering in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

  4. Oh Gwen how I needed this. Like you I watched my Mom on November 23, 2021 fight her battle also. My Mom was a wonderful Christian. She would pray with anyone at anytime and was a always on fire for the Lord. It was painful to watch her suffer, we her children suffered also. We couldn’t understand why she had to suffer like she did. I said to my brother imagine what pains Jesus went through on that Cross. Through pain we find our strength in God. She was 92 years on this earth and a blessing to her family. My Dad died last year he died at the age of 93, he suffered for months. My Dad accepted Jesus in his heart at the age of 70 my mom never gave up on praying that Daddy would be saved and changed. He lived for the Lord until God called him home. My family we are still going through the valleys and I’m praying that soon we walk on the mountain tops. I know one glorious day I will see my parents again. God will see us through our season of life. Lifting you Gwen and your Dad and family up in prayer. May God almighty wrap you in his arms and hold you tight and give you the strength to face the day ahead.

    1. Post

      So great to hear from you, Anita. Thanks for sharing your story. My dad died in 2015, but he is fully well in the presence of Jesus now! Like you, one day I will see him again and I look forward to it! Blessings to you as well. Thanks for doing life with me.


  5. I look forward to each of your posts you have such a way in pulling together a beautiful message and relating it to your life as well as for others. I look forward to each one and share with my daughters as they go through life struggles. I too am suffering with an illness that is debilitating but I know God has a plan sometimes I wonder what it is and when it will be over, its been 2 years after a major surgery of sigmoid colon, my mom died of cancer of the colon a year ago and she was my best friend and such a Godly woman. I heard your message at Keystone and it inspired me especially the decisions we make when we are in our 20’s. I too made that same decision. God bless you!

    1. Post

      Thanks for sharing this, Karen. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to lose a parent. Loved my time at Keystone and am honored the LORD used my testimony/messtimony to make a connection with your heart. Truly HE REDEEMS!! 🙂

      Love and blessings,

  6. I’m just not in a good place. I’m always angry sad, so many different emotions. Our only son was murdered it’s going to be 15 years 3/10/2007 . I know God has been sustaining both my husband and I. But there’s so much emotions going on in my mind. I’m so overwhelmed with everything going on around me

    1. Post

      Oh, Nidza! I’m deeply sorry for your loss and the pain you’ve been through. I’m praying for you now, friend. God can and will give you the strength, peace and healing you long for. Believe.

      Love to you,

  7. thank for your message
    praying for God guidance and his words each day
    Help me to know God plans for me in his daily life
    help me to read his word more and pray

  8. I am at a job that I love. I give my all yet it is not enough. I don’t see me getting ahead. I leave work exhausted. I am praying that God wants me to be a licensed pastor. Yet the step I need to do are not working for me. I have no desire for my husband.

    1. Post

      Thanks for sharing your heart and struggles, Joycelyn. Praying now that the LORD will guide your heart and mind in all these areas. That He will renew, redeem and refresh your marriage and your career! And that the Spirit alive within you will flourish with fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

      Blessings and love to you,

  9. My ex-husband ,whom I was still close,to committed suicide on 1/17/22. He had stenosis of the spine. 2 surgeries did not correct his agonizing pain. Pray for his peace. Pray for our family. The Ridgways. We are all in shock. Saddened. Hurting. Praying for Gods healing and comfort

    1. Post

      Oh, Marcia! I’m so sorry to hear this. Praying for you and your family now. Asking the LORD to cover you all with His peace and comfort.

      Love to you,

  10. My beautiful momma passed away unexpectedly and our hearts are broken. This devotion describes me perfectly. I feel so empty and alone.

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      Oh, Susie. I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand the grief of losing a parent and am praying for you and your family right now.

      Love and blessings, friend.

  11. My dad is suffering with dementia. He’s been declining for several years, but now it’s to the point of pitiful. It’s the saddest thing to watch this man who was so smart and well dressed to become like this. I’ve prayed for God to allow him to just go to sleep, but it seems God’s not ready. So, I just pray and wait.

    1. Good morning- I experienced this with my mother as she had Alzheimer’s and it is very difficult to caregive and witness the changes in a parent that you would never thought to see. Know your father is still the sharp man underneath this terrible disease- his spirit still lives as such – keep loving him and telling him it’s ok – lots of hugging helps! I pray for you and your family

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