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
In our valleys, we can know that the the rod and staff are meant to comfort us. The staff is used by a shepherd to direct the sheep where they are supposed to go. It’s used as a gentle reminder that the sheep have gone astray. The rod, on the other hand, is used when the situation is a bit more serious. Sometimes, God will use a staff in our lives, and sometimes he will use a rod.
We live in a fallen world. The fact that we are God’s children does not get us a ticket out of suffering. Suffering is the universal experience for everyone, but the plan for us is that it is meant to be redemptive. In our valleys, God uses the rod and the staff to grow us to be more like Him.
It’s counter intuitive to think of disciplinary tools like the rod and staff as comforting, but when I have fully surrendered to His plan, there is comfort in knowing He is chastening me. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4. When I change my perspective on the purpose of trials, or valleys in my life, joy follows because I understand how He works those trials in my life for good. He is growing me and transforming me into His likeness.
His rod and staff are meant for redemption. We fight and twist against them because we esteem comfortable loving more than we esteem redemption. We don’t see redemption as much as we seek an easy life. Just look at our prayers - so often they are to make things easier for us. We live in a broken world so that we desire redemption more than comfort.
So what is your rod right now? What is it that you are praying away because it would be easier than truly surrendering to His plan for your life?
Only when we get to a place of complete surrender to the rod and the staff, to the trust in the valleys that this is what is best, can we move on to the next verse.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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