“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4 (NASB)
As leaders we will walk through shadows of suffering and maybe even the shadow of death. At the least, we may be called on to walk through these shadows with others.
One of the common sources of stress is loss. You can lose a loved one, your health, your ministry position, your money, or your reputation.
When people experience loss, they usually have one of the two most common reactions: fear and grief. Grief is good. Grief is the way we get through the transitions of life. In fact, if you don’t grieve, you get stuck! Grief will not destroy you if you let it out.
On the other hand, fear is a bad thing. Not once in the Bible does it say, “Grieve not,” “Sorrow not,” “Weep not,” or “Cry not.” What it does say is “Fear not.” And it says that 365 times! Grief doesn’t paralyze, but fear does.
David says in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Shepherds always carry a rod and a staff to protect their sheep. A rod to defend against wolves and a staff to lift fallen sheep caught in rocks. David knew that in the same way, God has the tools to protect him, and he trusted God, even in the darkest valleys.
Perhaps you are going through the valley of the shadow right now—maybe the valley of the shadow of death. It may be the valley of the shadow of debt. It may be the valley of the shadow of conflict. It may be the valley of the shadow of depression. It may be the valley of the shadow of discouragement. It may be the shadow of unfulfilled expectations.
Shadows are scary. But here are some truths you need to remember about shadows:
First, shadows can’t hurt you.
Second, shadows are always bigger than their actual source.
Third, shadows let you know there must be a light.
You can’t have a shadow without light. So, when you’re going through the valley of the shadow, turn your back on the shadow and look at the light. Because as long as you keep your eyes on the light—Jesus, who is the light of the world—the shadow won’t scare you. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world…” (John 8:12a NASB)
That’s how you go through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s how you lower your stress. You trust God in the dark valleys, just like David did, who prayed, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.” (Psalm 142:3 NASB).