Probably the most famous psalm in the world, Psalm 23 is six verses of peace and comfort to many in hard times.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
We read this and compare the “valley of the shadow of death” to just about anything that scares us or makes our lives uncomfortable. What happens to our comfort and faith when that valley suddenly becomes more literal? What promises has God given us for the valley?
On Thursday, July 24, my husband, Dave, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Just like that, we were standing at the entrance to the valley of the shadow of death. There had been times before when we thought God was taking us through this valley, but we realize now that those were only glimpses into the valley; God never made us actually walk through it before.
Girls, as I write this, we don’t yet know exactly what type of brain tumor Dave has—apparently there’s a variety of types. He has wonderful doctors and is receiving treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. All of our doctors have told us that the tumor doesn’t seem aggressive or malignant. They don’t seem to think it’s cancerous, but the neurosurgeon is doing a brain biopsy on August 7.
Neither Dave nor I feel that God is finished with Dave. We believe that God is going to fully heal him; however, the valley is still a scary place to walk through.
Here’s what God promises us when we walk through the valley.
- God is with us. The Psalmist (most likely King David) says he fears no evil because the Lord is with him. Nothing is stronger than God, so what is there to fear if we know that God is walking through the valley with us?
- God will direct us along His path. The rod and staff of a shepherd was used to keep wayward sheep on the safe path with the rest of the herd. As our shepherd, the Lord uses His rod and staff to redirect us when we start to veer off course.
- God’s presence and direction will comfort us. God’s comfort doesn’t mean we won’t be afraid or that there won’t be some really hard days. It means the Lord will have compassion on us, console us during the hardest times and comfort us all along the way.
It’s comforting to surrender all to God and rest in His presence during the hardest times, and often that’s the only way to get through the hardest times. It’s also the only way to see our circumstances the way God would like us to see them.
As incredibly difficult as it is, Dave and I have agreed that no matter what God chooses to do in our situation, we want it all to be for His glory. And when we say “no matter what God chooses to do,” we mean it. We trust that this is part of God’s larger story, and whatever decisions He makes, we want this situation to be used for His glory.
One of our pastors told us something his friend always says, and I want you girls to hear and remember this always:
Everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in a position to need one.
We’re grateful that God has sent us into the valley, in the position to need a miracle because it’s a privilege to be in such a position for the Lord to anything in our lives that will ultimately bring Him glory. We’re trusting and resting on God’s promises while we’re in the valley.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure… But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. (Philippians 2:12-13; 17)
Girls, how willing are you to let God use your life for His glory? Do you trust His promises when you are in the valley?
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