One of the most quoted Psalms is Psalm 23 which begins, "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..." What a beautiful picture this paints of us walking with God in beautiful, lush, fragrant pastures. It is a picture of peace, security and contentment. But then, the very next verse talks about very different surroundings. In a seemingly abrupt transition, verse four reads, "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."
How in the world did we go from green pastures to the valley of the shadow of death in a single verse?
You know, sometimes life is like that. Unexpected circumstances, tragedy and trials take us from one place in life to another in an instant. But no matter where we are in life, no matter what has happened, God is still there. When we look to Him, we don't have to fear. He always brings peace. He always brings comfort. And notice that it says, "Though I walk through…" It doesn't say, "Though I end up in the valley of the shadow of death." We have to remember that the dark times don't last. We don't have to live in the valley of the shadow of death; we are just passing through. Sometimes, when circumstances are so overwhelming, we can begin to feel stuck and limited. If you feel that way today, let this truth sink down into your heart: you are never stuck in the valley. He is leading you to a place of safety and rest. There may be seasons of uncertainty, but that's when trust kicks in. There may a season of mourning, but God is near to the brokenhearted. He is near to all who call on His name. Lift your eyes to Him, focus on His goodness, and let faith rise up in your heart again. Know that God is good. He is not the author of confusion but of peace. John 10:10 tells us that the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came to give us everlasting and abundant life. God is always on a mission of hope, healing and restoration—a mission of love.
Today, I encourage you to turn your thoughts to the Father. Ask Him to show you His love in a fresh, new way. Get a picture of Him standing before you with His arms stretched toward you, ready to lead you through the valley to the place of peace, rest and victory.