God, Our Shepherd

God sustains us

“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 ESV)

You know, when you think about Psalm 23 and this pandemic that we’re in today, I wonder if perhaps these are the most comforting words that Psalm 23 has for us. David imagines the worst moments we can have and describes them vividly as the valley of the shadow of death. Now, there aren’t a lot of valleys in Indiana. The terrain here is very flat. But in Israel, to shepherd in Israel is to lead sheep up and down hills. I have personally walked some of this terrain, and you can’t go far without going through ravines, gorges, and valleys; those deep places where the sun doesn’t break through.

Does that sound like the life you’re living right now? You’re walking through a kind of valley where you don’t see any light of truth or light of hope? Is your life a valley today?

While I’m sure this applies to those dark moments at the end of life, the language is more applicable to those dark nights of the soul during life. Valleys like we’re in now. The valleys of life where everything seems dark, mysterious, uncertain, and fearful. This is such a vivid description of human emotional pain. Anybody in that valley today?

Need a little light? See that it says I walk through the valley. When we are hurting we can give in to despair and think the valley is a canyon; a pit. I’ll never get out. It’ll always be this way! I’ll always feel this way. I’ll always have this pain. I’ll never get over this experience! I’m stuck and I can’t get out.

Not if God is your shepherd.

If God is my shepherd, then I’m walking through this valley of darkness. We are walking, as a church, through this valley of this coronavirus. We are walking through this valley of not being able to gather together. We’re walking through this valley of fear in our community. We are walking through this valley of uncertainty. This is not a canyon. This is not the end of the road. This is a valley that God, our Shepherd, is walking through with us. Please don’t forget that.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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