"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
When I read this verse, I'm reminded of the times in my life when I have encountered this walk. The long and often slow journey through the valley. Whether it has been the death of someone I love, the death of a relationship, the death of a sinful part of me that I was so comfortable with, that line brings back memories of those dark, seemingly endless valleys.
During some of my journeys I can say that I knew the Lord's comfort and that He was with me. I felt Him offering peace and wisdom in the midst of them. In others, I can't say I knew it was Him, but had He not been there walking with me, carrying me, I would not have been able to make it through. His grace was there long before I was aware.
Have you had many of these walks? The gut-wrenching kind that cause you to collapse on the floor, crying out for comfort-for help. I have encountered more then I would choose, but not more than God has chosen.
Each encounter with the valley of the shadow of death has brought new light to who God is and how He chooses to bring glory to Himself.
How He chooses to bring me to Himself.
I'm so thankful that with Him, I don't have to fear these valleys and I don't have to be alone in them. The Psalmist writes, "I will fear no evil..." It's a choice of his own will to place his well being in the hands of his shepherd. He chooses to believe, with certainty, in the midst of his valley that His Lord has not been caught unaware and is with him. Comforting him.
When evil takes place- I mean when it hits really hard and fast, knowing that God has an eternal purpose and even a "right-now" purpose is a comfort to me. You know that saying, "everything happens for a reason?" That is such an annoying saying when there is no reason good enough to explain the things that have taken place in your valley.
I prefer, "and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son..." Romans 8:28-29
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
"Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
All those words of truth offer exactly what I need when the valleys are deep and dark. I can say that I'm grateful for them because each valley allows me to know God in a deeper way and each has been a good reminder that this life is not about me. He's given wisdom, perspective and a truly grateful heart for all the times on the mountaintops and even simply level ground.
Thank you Lord for the valleys and for carrying me through them. Thank you for the comfort and truth your word offers to a world full of them. Please comfort all of us who are in the lowlands of the valley of the shadow. Breath your peace and comfort into the broken places in our hearts.
Thank you Lord.