A psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps me [a] alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.
5 You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
6 Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live[b] in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.
One summer vacation, my parents took us to Crystal Cave. I remember feeling the coolness of the air, on that hot summer day as we descended down into the cave. The guide told us to stop and then he turned off the lights in the cave. Many people gasped in surprise at the darkness, because no matter where we looked, there wasn’t any light. Everyone stood still, growing uncomfortable in the silence and unable to see anything in the darkness. To our relief, the lights came back on and everyone walked out of the cave into the sunlight.
When I read this beloved Psalm, verse four always speaks to me. I think it resonates with many of us because, sooner or later, we all find ourselves in the darkest valley. There are seasons in life where we can’t escape the darkness, be it depression, profound grief at losing a loved one, financial ruin, terminal illness, addiction or war. Darkness can take on many forms and it always hits us when we’re least prepared to deal with it by ourselves.
But here’s the good news, we don’t have to deal with the darkness by ourselves. God is already there in the darkness, walking side by side with us, no matter what danger we may be facing. We may feel alone and be unable to see God because of the darkness in our lives, but God surrounds us with grace, love and God’s healing presence.
I know this because at those times in my life, even though I may not have felt God’s presence, when I looked back, I could see all God’s blessings that sustained me. I almost missed all the “goodness and faithful love” that pursued me. My faith community and friends reached out, they prayed and helped with food, care or were just present and sat with me when there were no words. God was so good to me, guided me, loved me into wholeness and led me through the darkness back into the light.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus walked through the darkest valley, death, and trusting God, came through the darkness into the light of resurrection, for our salvation. Don’t fear the darkness or despair, God is already there with you.
Where are you on your journey? Maybe you find yourself entering the darkest valley, don’t fear! Maybe you’ve been there for a season, trust God who is by your side. Maybe God has guided you through the darkness, back into the light, so that you can help others. Know wherever you are on that journey, God loves you, and God will bless you through others. If you have come through the darkness, look for those who need your prayers, your love and care today.
Prayer: Holy and loving God, you are with us in the darkest valley, leading us to resurrection and new life. Help us to see those in need of our love, care and prayers, and to respond. In Jesus’ name. Amen.