Clearly from the ewe's point of view the shepherd was being really harsh and cruel, taking away her precious offspring and the fruit of her hard work. Only he really knew what the gift of those lambs would mean to some distant bereaved sheep, perhaps even on some other farmer's land as they co-operated together in lambing time. Being a shepherd is a tough job and those who undertake it are not soft, though they are usually well meaning and wise. Our divine shepherd asks us to keep on trusting him even when his actions may cause us grief or pain. Having been a patient in a London hospital many times in the last 12 months I have reflected on this mystery often. What I have discovered is that in every circumstance of life it is important for the sheep to keep trusting Jesus who described himself as "the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep". No flock could ask for more from its shepherd even if they fail to understand his methods. He has good plans for us even in the difficult times. He knows what he is about and our job is to welcome him and trust in him.
So Harnhill was good for me. It enabled me to reaffirm my confidence that I am willing to let God set the agenda in my life even if that means the awful pain I go through daily. I can't discern or describe any worth or purpose in this but I do acknowledge that my 'good shepherd' has a plan and I choose to trust in him. And you?