Did you know that there really is a Valley of the Shadow of Death in Israel. It is a very deep and narrow one. It is so deep and so narrow that the sun only hits the bottom of that valley at exactly noon. For the entire rest of the day the valley is dark. This valley was used as a passage way and still is. David may have even travelled it as he led his sheep through.
Well, we all have “walked through” a time of darkness when there was little light if any at all. How we handle those “dark valleys” is important to us as we grow with God.
Have you ever thought about the fact that almost all the people in the Bible have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death – if not geographically then spiritually and emotionally. Joshua spoke of his Calamity Valley. The Valley of Trouble was Hosea’s. Psalm 84 – The Valley of Weeping. Paul had many times he found himself entrenched in that dark valley Even here in the USA we have an area called Death Valley. As you do daily Bible readings, you will see that all the Biblical people had their “valley” experiences.
But here is something to think about – if you live in an area with sunshine, no rain – – what you have is a desert. No green grass, lovely flowers, or gorgeous landscapes. To have the beautiful landscapes, we must have rain. Now, this is not only true in nature, turning a desert into a garden but it is true for us, in our lives, also. Without a valley, we cannot have a mountain-top experience.
So, let’s discuss this Psalm and this valley we are walking through.
“Yea, 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.” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
Now, everyone will go through valleys like this during a lifetime. You may be in a dark valley right now or perhaps just walked through one or are heading in to one. We can NOT avoid it. That is what life is – a constant challenge of moving successfully from one issue into a next one.
There may be long periods of lush green enjoyable times, but we have to expect that dark valley to appear in our lives. Everyone has the dark valleys – everyone.
Job 5: 7 says: Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward. (NKJV)
Now, we don’t plan those dark valleys, like we plan our dinner dates or our vacations. They happen when we are least prepared for them.
Have you ever been on the computer when it froze “expectantly”, right in the middle of an important piece of business, have a “planned fender bender” while driving, or gotten the flu at a time when you “could take the time to rest and get well??” We are never prepared for these things happening much less times of spiritual and emotional upheavals where that Dark Valley is even darker. Never planned, never ready, never predicted, never wanted.
Destruction upon destruction is cried, For the whole land is plundered.
Suddenly my tents are plundered, and my curtains in a moment.” Jeremiah 4: 20 (NKJV)
There was Jeremiah’s dark valley. Think about his world; think about that word “suddenly.” He did not plan or want this destruction. Nor do we.
No matter what vaccine we may get or care we may take, we are not immune, none of us. We can not escape negative things happening to us, problems cropping up, sadness enveloping us. No one is left out; we are all in this together. ALL OF US.
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust..” Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)
What makes us any different than the next person??
But, my friends, the good news is that these dark valleys are temporary. They are here for a while and then we walk through them. Even if we are in a dark valley/tunnel, there is always that light at the end of it. Problems always pass, and the light always shines forth.
10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5: 10 (NKJV)
And here it is from The Message:
“The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good.” 1 Peter 5:10 (MSG)
And guess what!! If you think you are living in one death valley after another with no respite (even though that is impossible), that is still nothing compared to eternity in Heaven where there is no problem, no pain, no suffering, no fear.
“God has a reason for taking you through dark valleys. Whether you have a valley full of doubt, despair, discouragement, or defeat – God has a reason behind it. We think that valleys are unnatural – they are not – they are a natural part of the landscape.” There are financial valleys, relationship valleys, emotional valleys, all kinds of valleys in our lives. You will get through them in time. Look at what first Peter chapter one says:
“6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)
So, let’s take a look at this for a moment —-
There is a reason, a purpose for our valleys, our problems, disappointments, heartaches. This is what helps our faith grow, helps us to be strong. It is God’s way of helping us become the best we can be. So, focus on becoming strong in faith during these times. Practice depending more on God to handle it and less on yourself or another person.
And these struggles are the only way we can build our faith. We need to build faith through trusting God during difficult times. It would be easy to sing to God all day and laugh and praise, but to do it in that valley is real proof of trust and faith.
God’s goal in life is not to make you comfortable. His goal is to build your character. He is preparing you for eternity.
So, as we go through these trials, these valleys we must remember to Not be discouraged.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
Let’s think about this verse for a moment.
As he walks through this valley of the shadow of death, David fears no evil. He is not going to panic. He is not going to run screaming and out of control; his sheep are walking calmly with him. No need to fear; no need to panic; no need to stampede in fear; he is walking on solid ground, as are his sheep. As calm as he and his sheep are, so can we be. Because – “I will fear no evil.” Nothing can harm us.
Notice , that he is saying “I WILL’. David is choosing to not be afraid; he is choosing to trust God. He is choosing to resolve any situation he gets into because he knows that through God all things are possible. Now, I encourage you to do the same. Change that defeat attitude into one of victory and fear NO evil.
Remember, just like that boulder in the road – you can’t go around the valley. You can’t go under the valley. You can’t go over the valley. You must go through the valley. But – “I will fear no evil.” I will not be afraid. I refuse to be shaking in my boots. I will walk through this valley.” And I will walk through it calmly, lovingly, and with a smile on my face.
And here is the big and main reason for not being fearful, not being discouraged
“For You are with me;” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
God is with you every step of the way. God promises you that, He is present with your always.
He never leaves us alone. Note how the language changes in verse 4 – it goes from third person “he” to second person “you/thy.”
“You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” not – “The Lord is with me; His rod and His staff………” No, Now the speech becomes totally intimate. You are not hearing or seeing this from afar but it is happening up close and personal. In times like these. You don’t want to talk “about” God you want to talk “to and with” God. Now we are talking about a true and close relationship.
God is telling you that “I am with you always. I am right here beside you. I am carrying you when your load becomes too heavy. I will get you through this and we will come through this valley together and stronger than ever.”
Now our faith has been tested and we are stronger for it.
Repeating for emphasis:
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 6-7
Two weeks ago I was at a meeting in the front office of an old museum. The back – where the restrooms were – was pitch black – no windows, no doors except the one I came through which had a dark foyer leading from the office to the museum – hence -0- light at all. I had absolutely NO light, no windows, no Exit sign. I was thrust into total darkness. I stopped waiting for my eyes to adjust. They did not; it was that dark. So I took a deep breath and visualized the lay out of this small museum and taking one shakey step at a time until I finally arrived at the restroom. I pushed open the door, praying hard I was in the right spot, fumbled around until I was able to locate the necessary seat and take care of my needs. I found the sink and the water but never the paper towels. I travelled back through that very dark valley, lightly touching every step of the way. Now, that is a silly example but a true one. I could have fallen down stairs or over a piece of art or a display, so it was frightening. I now know truly what pitch black means. But I kept in mind that I did have a museum guide right beside me to lead me through that dark, very dark, valley. He was right there, reassuring me the whole way. And I made it without a scratch or a bruise, just wet hands.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)
“David reminds us that God has a rod and a staff to protect us. The rod and the staff are basic tools for the shepherd. The rod is basically two feet long and has a knot at one end. Shepherds train to use the rod like a missile at anything that would endanger the sheep. Shepherds use the rod to protect their flock.
The staff is a long stick with a crock at the end of it. The staff is used to draw sheep out of a ditch or to pull them closer to the shepherd’s side. But the truth is the shepherd is there to protect His sheep. God has promised us His protection.”
“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:29 (NKJV)
But what about these shadows of death in this valley. We all know they are there. We can see them OR can we? The shadow which represents fear is always bigger that what we face. Remember that. Next time you have a fear, think of it as a mere, small shadow that disappears in a blink of an eye. That makes the fear smaller and more manageable.
And shadows can NOT hurt us. They can not knock us down, run over us, punch us. They can only scare us.
And most importantly, a shadow can only be seen if there is a source of light at some point. At the end of this dark tunnel/valley there is light and that light is God . The Bible says that” God is light – and in Him there is no darkness.” Trust Him. No matter how dark your valley is, how frightened you may be, how nervous you have become – take a deep breath, relax, and – Believe in Him because: – – – –
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, 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.” Psalms 23:1-4 (NKJV)