Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
So often when we are going through difficult times in life, when we are suffering, hurting, it can be difficult to see God. It can be difficult to trust in the goodness of God, to know he is there comforting us, leading us, strengthening us. What is interesting to note from the 23rd psalm is that David does not write, ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He leads me around the valley of the shadow of death because it frightens me…’ He also does not say, ‘Even though He takes me through the valley of the shadow of death…’ David does not fault God for going through the darkest valleys of life. He understands that going through the dark valleys of life is part of living life in a fallen world. For God to truly protect us from experiencing suffering in this world, he would have to take us out of this world. Thus, David does not focus on the negative (the dark valley), he focuses on the positive (“for you are with me”). David is trusting in the goodness and leading of God. He may not understand why he is in this valley or where God is leading him, but this he knows--that God is with him, that God has not abandoned him, that God is caring for him, loving him, leading him, strengthening him. The joy and the strength and comfort that comes from being in covenantal relationship with God is not in being protected from harm and suffering but—unlike the rest of the world—knowing we are not alone. Unlike the rest of the world, knowing there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Unlike the rest of the world, knowing that somehow my suffering is for my good and God’s glory. Unlike the rest of the world, knowing that we never say “goodbye” to our loved ones in Christ but rather, “I’ll see you after a while.” Believers look forward to the day when we will be reunited with our loved ones and family and friends. Thus, when we walk through life’s darkest valleys, let us not fear the evil that lies before us for God is with us.
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