Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;”
[At least one of the paths of righteousness you will lead me on, Lord, goes through this dark valley. It may be a time of dying to a desire, to my will, to a possession or it may be physical danger and sickness or death of a loved one or myself. Whatever it is, I do not need to fear that evil will triumph.
There may be loss and suffering, but in the end, evil will not win because Jesus is already the Victor and I belong to Him.
Think of Paul in his shipwreck described in Acts 27. In the midst of a great storm there were days and nights of uncertainty where Paul was cold, wet and hungry; and then the crashing of the ship into a sandbar and everyone having to swim to shore through crashing surf. There was evil: the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, Paul included, so they couldn’t escape, but that was prevented. Then the viper bit Paul, but God protected him and no harm was done.
It was a dark valley, but in it, the witness of Paul shone brighter in his faith, in his declaration of God’s sovereignty, in his prediction (all possessions will be lost, all people will be saved), and in his being protected. Without that dark, the light would have not been seen so clearly.
As we take refuge in His love, power and truth, God does not always protect us from what will harm us physically, but from what would harm us spiritually. Then we can shine in the darkness of this world as a light house for those seeking Truth.
The valley of the shadow of death is not a threat but an opportunity to fulfill the purpose of our lives: honoring the One who walked this road before us and will walk with us through it again. So, let us look to Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
Let us follow the advice of the Word to “throw off everything that hinders [our natural worldview] and the sin that so easily entangles [addiction to comfort, selfishness and security, to name a few] and run with perseverance the race marked out for us [some of which will go through the valley of the shadow of death], fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb. 12:1,2a) and we will come out on the other side, into a pleasant place: “He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Ps. 18:19).