As much as we would like to avoid the “valleys” in life, in hindsight, those moments teach us more than any other experience. We would all prefer to live on the proverbial “mountain top” where there is no struggles, no challenges, and no disappointments. The valleys in life build character and give us a fresh perspective on living. There is no mountain top without first going through the valley.
David dealt with this unavoidable experience in Psalm 23:4 when he said, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” There are four hope-filled points of encouragement for anyone going through a valley in this verse.
Number 1 “Even though I walk through…”
We are not camping out in the valley of death. We are not sitting in the valley of death. We are not taking a number and waiting in the valley of death. We are walking through. It’s not our responsibility to know why or when we will be through this valley but to follow our shepherd as He leads us through it.
Number 2 “Even though I walk through ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’”
Your valley is but a shadow. A shadow can’t harm you. It may intimidate you or cause fear to surround you but it can’t harm you. Psychology describes a concept called a “paper tiger” as a situation that feels like a threat but is ineffectual. Paper tigers can be debilitating if not confronted with faith.
Number 3 “I” and “YOU”
This is where it gets personal. David said, when “I” walk through the valley of the shadow of death, “YOU” are with me. Fear may try to convince you that you’re alone. Uncertainty may try to persuade you that there’s no hope. Anxiety may try to overwhelm your senses. But these do not change the fact that God is with you. God does not abandon you in your darkest valleys He walks with you through it to the end.
Number 4 “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
David’s confidence did not come from his experience or his own ability. His confidence and courage came from knowing that God was with him. Fear and anxiety want to isolate you but you cannot forget that God is with you. Evil has no hold on you when the Lord is your shepherd. God’s perfect love cast out ALL fear. God’s love is perfect because His love is selfless, unconditional, and based on who He is not on what we have done.
If you are going through a valley this morning and fear has convinced you that your demise is imminent, remember that fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Stand against the attempts of fear to extinguish your faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7. Put your trust not in what you feel or see but in God’s supreme ability to guide you through your valley. The deeper the valley the deeper the blessing.