September 13, 2017
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23:4a (NLT)
In life, we all certainly like mountaintop experiences better than valleys — the air is clean, the sun is shining, and the view is amazing. But the truth is, we’re going to go through valleys. It’s inevitable. You’ve observed that, haven’t you?
Jesus didn’t want us to be surprised by difficult times, so just before He died on the cross, He warned us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33b, NLT). “You will have …” means it’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that you can’t plan valleys or schedule them. Who’s ever had a flat tire or a root canal at a good time?
But be encouraged that valleys are temporary; they do have an end. And valleys have a purpose. God never wastes our pain.
The apostle Peter wrote, “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6b-7, NLT).
When God assured Moses He would be with him as he led the Israelites to the Promised Land, God said, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest — everything will be fine for you” (Exodus 33:14b, NLT). I love Moses’ reply: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place” (Exodus 33:15b, NLT). Amen, Moses — that’s exactly how I feel about going to strange, new places too.
What encourages me is that God never asks me to go through a valley alone.
Notice in our key verse that David, the one who wrote Psalm 23, refused to be filled with fear in the dark valleys, because God was with him in a very real and personal way: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (Psalm 23:4a)
Earlier in this psalm, David’s comments about God are in the third person — the LORD is my shepherd … He makes me lie down … He leads me… He refreshes my soul … He guides me.
But when David gets to the dark valley, he switches to second person: “for you are with me” (v. 4). That’s oh so personal. It’s as if David sees the darkness ahead, and he reaches out for God’s hand. What a comfort to put our hand in God’s hand, as we take a step into the dark!
Pastor, writer and Bible teacher Andrew Murray once encouraged us to say: “I am here —
1. By God’s appointment.
2. In His keeping.
3. Under His training.
4. For His time.”
Thank You, Lord, for that truth!
Lord, help me keep my eyes on You, not the painful circumstances I’m facing — not on my problem but on Your power. Thank You that You are with me and will never leave me. Here’s my hand. Please hold it tightly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 13:5b, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’”(NLT)
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (NLT)
If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you’ll appreciate Darlene Sala’s newest book, Journey into Grace: 150 Encouraging Devotions for Women. With Darlene’s heartfelt voice alongside two co-authors including her daughter Bonnie, the 150 readings invite you to lean hard into God’s grace. You can purchase a copy here.
Check out Darlene’s weekly blog, Encouraging Words.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
As you reach for God’s hand, insert your own name in these phrases:
I, [your name] am here —
1. By Your appointment.
2. In Your keeping.
3. Under Your training.
4. For Your time.
© 2017 by Darlene Sala. All rights reserved.
Originally published Wednesday, 13 September 2017.