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
David is in a deep valley as he writes this psalm, yet he keeps his eyes fixed on the one who will protect him. Because he knows that His shepherd keeps watch over him, he has nothing to fear in the valley.
What do we fear when we’re in the valley? Our fears reveal where we’re not trusting God. Often, our greatest fears in the valley isn’t the valley itself, but what we think may come. Fear of the unknown, fear of what we may have to endure, fear of the hurt or the abandonment, fear of the loss or what people will think. Our fear of things that have not yet happened drive our emotions and determine our behavior. We never just suffer the suffering, we suffer the thinking that the suffering brings into our lives. It’s never just the valley, it’s the fear of what may happen in the valley that determine the depth of our trials.
My valley is my cancer - though it’s certainly not my deepest valley, it is my current valley. The fears that immediately popped into my mind when I was diagnosed could have determined the depth of my trial had I not worked on capturing them consistently. What if treatment doesn’t work? What if treatment compromises my long term health? The “what if’s” piled up in my head and threatened my peace as I walked into my valley. It’s so often our fear of what may happen that attack our peace over what we’re actually walking through.
What I’ve discovered walking through so many valleys with my Lord, is that we spend an awful lot of energy on those what ifs, and many of them never come to pass. We can choose to spend our days fretting over what might happen, missing out on what actually is happening in our lives, only to discover that those things never come to pass....or we can choose to deal with then when and if they ever happen, and not a moment before. How much energy is spent on fearing events or situations that never actually happens in our lives? Remember, our God gives us grace for today. He gives us just enough grace to face the real trials that we’re dealing with - not the imagined trials in our heads. He hasn’t given us the grace to deal with what we fear may happen - that is the reason they feel so overwhelming. Stay in the moment and just deal with what He’s got in front of you, and stop fearing what hasn’t happened yet. If it does happen, you can bank on the fact that He will give you the grace to deal with that fear if it ever becomes a reality.
We capture those fearful thoughts the same way David did - by reminding ourselves that He is with us. Nothing - absolutely nothing - comes into our lives but what the Almighty God allows. He knows and He signed off on every valley for a specific purpose in our lives. He’s already there in the valley waiting to walk through it with us, we have nothing to fear.
Note that David changes to the personal pronoun of “you” in this verse. His relationship with the Lord is personal. Far too many Christians want the benefit of claiming that God is with me, but spend far too little time with God. If you want the benefit of God’s tangible presence as you’re walking through a valley, then you need to invest in time with Him every day. Get into His Word, pray continuously, attend church and small groups, spend time with Godly friends. Make Him a priority, and you will feel His very presence in the trial you.
One final thing I’ve discovered to help quiet those fears as I’m walking through the valleys is to speak His Word out loud. There is power in proclaiming His promises. Hose who know me well know I grab a hold of this promise often: I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! - Psalm 27:13-14. He promises me that I will see His goodness, so I have nothing to fear in the valleys.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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