The person who goes into ‘the valley’ is not the same person who leaves it.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. —Psalm 23:4
These are some of the most familiar and courageous words ever written!
We all face death—our own and the death of the ones we love.
This reality is certainly an appropriate focus during Lent.
It’s also important to reflect on the various ‘valleys,’ ‘troughs,’ ‘low spots,’ ‘dry times’ and ‘dark shadows’ we go through in any given year in the course of a lifetime.
Isaiah 43:1-2 reminds us that the valley is not a wrong turn, but, is rather a time of training and an opportunity for genuine discovery of God.
The person who goes into the ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ is not the same person who leaves it.
I will be with you, says God. I have called you by name; you are mine.
Our time in the valleys, even the valley of the shadow of death, offers a unique opportunity to discover the reality that God is with us.
There can be no doubt that the key messages of Psalm 23.4, is that:
There are some important things to note about this journey into ‘the valley.’
First, we should remember that it is only a valley, and valleys do not go on forever.
They are simply depressions between mountains, so there are brighter days to come.
This valley also has a name, ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’
Given a choice, I’d rather travel through ‘happy valley’ but that would be more of a picnic ground rather than a training ground.
The good news is, it is not ‘Death Valley’ it is only ‘Death’s Shadow’.
There’s only one person who has gone through ‘death’ and come out three days later, not only alive, but, eternally alive.
There is only one who was capable of removing death’s sting - Jesus!
The same Jesus who has reduced death to a shadow of it’s former self, travels with us through ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’
That said, shadows can be a bit scary, someone or some thing could be lurking in them.
Remember how you used to be afraid of shadows as a child for that very reason?
There are some things to keep in mind about shadows…
Shadows can’t hurt you.
Shadows are always bigger than the source.
And — here’s the good news — wherever there is a shadow, there has to be a light.
You can’t have a shadow without light.
So the key when you’re going through ‘the valley of the shadow’ is to turn your back on the shadow and look at the light.
Because as long as you keep your eyes on the light — Jesus, the light of the world — the shadow won’t scare you.