Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.
Psalm 23:4 (The Voice)
Have you ever felt better by having someone with you? Children do this all the time. When they are sick, they want someone who loves them holding them. When they are afraid, they want mommy or daddy. Adults, if we’re honest, often do too. There is something about a loving presence that changes our experience of suffering and fear. This isn’t a matter of our minds, it’s a matter of our hearts. And it’s real.
Because David was a shepherd, who dearly loved his sheep (Ezekiel 34), he declares that God is our Good Shepherd. Good Shepherds don’t abandon their sheep. They watch over them day and night. They kill predators and rescue those that get into trouble. They make sure they have clean food and water and attend to their wounds and, yes, even to their fears. Sheep need shepherds not only to survive, but also to heal, to soothe, and even to flourish.
We don’t always know how much we need God, but dark valleys have a way of showing us that we do. And Jesus wants us to know He is there for us. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep.” When we look at our circumstances, we can easily be discouraged, afraid, and even hopeless. That’s why we need to keep looking at Jesus. He gave up all of heaven to become a limited human being for us. Then, as the one and only sinless person to ever live, He chose to take our punishment upon himself when He let Himself die on the cross. There is no loving thing that Jesus will not do for us, as contrary to our circumstances as this sometimes seems.
And God also understands when we don’t believe the truth of his love. Just as a parent holds a screaming, kicking child, and whispers, “Hush, my precious child, we’re going to get through this,” Jesus wants us to let ourselves be held and comforted by Him. He wants us to receive His loving presence so that we grow in trusting Him and experience the peace that guards our hearts and minds—the peace that defies explanation.
- Read John 10:9-15 three times, slowly, and out loud, pausing between readings. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through these verses. Write down the things you experience and discover.
- Write out John 15:9 and put it on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator or dashboard of your car. Memorize it, asking God to convince you of His love.