“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4
Even though, in spite of, come what may, regardless, and nevertheless are all statements of faith in the face of severe trial. When I use one of them, I am boldly proclaiming my confidence in God and declaring that I will stand in contradiction to the ominous storm that is rumbling on my horizon.
The doctor says I have a terminal disease? In spite of that, fear will not consume me. My spouse has asked for a divorce? Come what may, I will contend for restoration. I lost my job and have used all of my savings? Regardless, I will continue to believe that God is my provider. A fire has taken my home and all my possessions? Nevertheless, I will rise from the ashes more convinced than ever that God will walk me through it.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me.”
David begins this section of Psalm 23 with a statement of determined faith in his Lord. Despite whatever catastrophes life might hurl at him, David proclaims that he will stand in contradiction to them. He can speak confidently because David is intimately connected to his Shepherd. In order to experience the same intimacy with the Lord as did David; we, too, must fight our natural inclination to be fearful in in the face of difficulty. Instead, we need to find a way to stand in contradiction to it.
How can we be as confident as David?
1. In the midst of this reality, we choose to walk through:
Remember it’s a “valley” not an “alley” – there’s not a dead end. The trial you are facing will not last forever, so hang in there and determine to keep plodding ahead. It is not God’s intention for you to quit, become stranded, or ensnared in your valley. He wants you to grow as you proceed through, so keep on moving!
How do you keep moving?
- Keep your eye on the prize: “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4
- Remember your context: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
- Fix your eyes on Jesus: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
2. In the midst of this reality, we choose to endure:
In order to experience the exhilaration of the mountaintops of our lives, we have to endure the challenges of the climb. Every step we take, every obstacle we overcome, and every fear we conquer makes us stronger. It is the very struggle during the ascent that makes the summit all the more spectacular. Don’t shirk the hard road; it will reward you in the end.
How does God want us to endure the hard things?
- Resolve to not quit: “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3
- Get up if you stumble – maturity is a process: “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
- Permit endurance to produce God’s change in you: “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4
3. In the midst of this reality, choose to acknowledge death:
Death is always an option in this journey of life. Its shadow lurks in every nook and cranny of our lives. Death resides in the diagnosis, the unexpected termination, a sudden accident, and an abandoned dream. Nevertheless, Jesus did conquer death for us and his broken body is our greatest blessing.
How can I best acknowledge death without succumbing to fear?
- Celebrate Christ’s victory over death: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55
- Rejoice In Christ’s resurrection and the victory it provides for you: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
- Stand in your authority as a conqueror! : “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
4. In the midst of this reality, choose to adopt faith over fear:
Death is scary because it is unknown, but David confidently calls out death when he says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me…” He acknowledges the presence of death in his valley, but David also puts death in its proper perspective. The “shadow” of death exists because there is a light source illuminating it. David is never alone with death in that valley because the “shadow” indicates the very presence of God himself.
How do we know we’re not alone in the valley?
- God sent Jesus to be the light that casts a shadow over death: “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” John 1:4
- Jesus declared Himself to be that light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:5
- God has promised to always be with us: “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b
5. In the midst of this reality, choose to walk with Jesus:
My first boss was a former naval officer. As a result, he was a stickler for details, and a resolute “worst case scenario” person. Often when we were writing and rewriting employee policy, he would ask me, “Okay, what if this person dies?” To my 21 year-old mind, it was jarring, morbid even. As the years have passed, however, I’ve seen the wisdom in it. He wanted to be sure the university insurance programs resourced its employees even in their most desperate hour; when death arrived.
I believe walking intimately with God to be the only insurance plan capable of resourcing me through any and every trial a valley might present. God’s presence in my valley will provide the light I need to see and the confidence I need to keep traveling “through.”
How do we walk intimately with Christ?
- Draw near to Him: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a
- Recognize that God is full of mercy and grace, and He is anxious to resource your need: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death…
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.
Even though the earth gives way…
Even though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea…
Even though its waters roar and foam…
Even though the mountains quake with their surging…
Even though the absolute worst should happen…
Stand in contradiction to your circumstances and
Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (taken from Psalm 46:1-3, 10)
Even though…No matter what.
© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.