“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV)
Part of the human experience involves walking through dark valleys. A lost job. The death of a loved one. Difficulty in relationships with family or friends. Wrestling with doubt. Fighting disease. Struggling with sin.
The poetry of the King James Version conjures the most vivid image: “the valley of the shadow of death.” That’s exactly what a dark valley can feel like. There can be a long loneliness that leaves us wondering if we will ever emerge on the other side.
There is a word here that contains the proclamation and promise of David’s experience of God: “with.”
“With” has the power to cast our fear: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
In the New Testament, we read that “perfect love casts out fear.”
Indeed, Jesus endured his own long loneliness, his own dark valley. The dark shadow of the cross loomed over him and eclipsed the Light of the World on a Friday afternoon. Ironically, in this deep darkness, the love of God shone brightly.
The love of God–the perfect, fear-casting-out, love of God–having entered the dark valley of the cross, is now with us in any dark valley that we walk through. We dare not walk one without our Good Shepherd.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for enduring the darkness and loneliness of the cross. May I welcome you into my dark valleys and receive your perfect love that casts out fear. Amen.