Faith, Not Fear
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
(NLT Psalm 23:3-4)
Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t sleep, because someone had told you a scary story or you had watched a frightening movie? Or perhaps you have a little one in your house who wants you to repeatedly check for the monster under the bed or open the closet door to prove no horrible creature lurks there, waiting to jump out and devour them.
When I was a little girl, we had a Saturday afternoon program in the Detroit area, which played mostly old black and white horror movies—mild by today’s standards, but enough to fuel the imagination. I was probably nine or ten when I was allowed to start watching them. Back then vampires were villains that sucked the life out of you, leaving you doomed to the same evil form.
To make matters worse, my upstairs bedroom had the door leading to the dust porch. What a convenient place for a ghoul to sneak in, despite Mom locking both the sturdy storm and inside doors. I was convinced that something would vaporize through the cracks around the frame! And I was sure, werewolves, or whatever else might lurk in the dark were athletic enough to climb up onto the porch and break the door down. I hid under the covers, so I couldn’t see shadows in the darkened room around me or anything that might think moved. I clung to my cross necklace or a rosary to protect myself, yet those were just symbols I held onto.
How much greater is the real power of the One who overcame the cross and rose from the dead. Jesus Christ is here with us through each of life’s difficulties. As the shepherd would use the rod to protect the sheep from their predators or the staff’s crooked end to pull a sheep out of harm’s way, He is with His sheep today. One word from Him can fell our enemies. We can’t see what happens in the spiritual realm, but He is there.
We meet “darkest valleys” throughout our lives. Times when illness plagues us or returns when least expected, husbands or wives fall short of their wedding vows, friends hurt us deeply, someone we love is injured or dies. The car accident, house fire, job loss, deep disappointment and stress . . . on and on, life seems at times filled with these dark valley moments.
Jesus is always there with us, even when we can’t feel His presence. We need to turn our eyes toward Him and follow Him through the valley until we emerge out of it, whether here on earth or in His heavenly presence. These are times we can look back and often better see how the Lord worked in our lives.
While I can look back and smile at the thought of myself cowering under the blankets, because of imaginary monsters, I can have joy in the amazing things He has done in the past and will surely continue to do in the future. We can move forward with great confidence, knowing that the Good Shepherd watches over and protects us through whatever dark valley we face.
Heavenly Father, help us to remember you are with us always and to have the faith to continually trust in You. Amen.