As I watched our child sleep, I couldn’t help think of the women and the men in the valleys – them in waiting, those who have lost their children through various circumstances, women going through miscarriages, men who have to be strong for their wives, men who have to bear with being ostracized, any grieving woman, any grieving heart, and my heart soaked in their pain.
I understand that pain. I know the valley of pain, I know its shadows.
The valley is often depicted as a low, dark place. Yet, your valley may be different to those around you. We know that suffering comes in many forms, whether it’s through grief, a medical condition, financial hardship or relational conflict. Whatever it is that causes us to feel pain, hopeless, uncertain and ‘in the dark’, is our valley.
Psalm 23 is one of the most beautiful pieces of God-inspired literature written by King David during a painful time in his life.
Throughout the Psalms, we observe the adventurous relationship that David had with God the Father. We see the freedom of expression, the unashamed worship and the level of transparency.
David communicated with God knowing that God would not be offended by his raw feelings at that moment. The incredible thing is that these portions of Scripture where David appears to be venting to God, are included in the Bible for a reason. Their very inclusion shows us that God is not offended by our (non-sinful) feelings or by our pain!
Sometimes we hold back on sharing our hearts with God out of fear that God won’t be able to handle it. But I assure you, that nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing is too big for God to handle. Rather, sincerity of heart and brokenness is what He desires, far above the façade of strength that we often try to put up.
So how do we suffer ‘well’ when we are in the valley?
‘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. The conjunction ‘even though’ makes us understand that the valley is an expected part of the Christian walk.
The word ‘walk’ reminds us that we need not run through this valley experience and we dare not stand still. The only thing that we need to do is walk WITH God. And if we ever felt compelled to ‘run’, it would only be into the name of JESUS where we are saved!
The word ‘through’ is a word of hope in this verse. ‘Through’ tells us that the valley is not a permanent experience. There is an entrance and there is an exit.
SOMETIMES WE WILL PASS THROUGH, TO KNOW THAT HE IS.
We will pass through sickness to know that He is a Healer.
We will pass through heartbreak to know that He is a mender of broken hearts. We will pass through financial difficulty to know that He is our provider.
We will pass through rejection to know that He never leaves nor forsakes us. So I say again, sometimes we will pass through to know that HE IS! ‘The I AM’ is everything you need Him to be and more.
‘I will fear no evil’ – It does not say that ‘there will be no evil’. Even in the presence of evil, suffering and pain, we can counsel our hearts to combat fear with courage because He is with us.
‘For You are with me’ – God is Faithful in the valley just as He is Faithful on the mountaintop. His faithful presence inspires us with complete assurance of His perfect plan for us and tangible comfort.
As the valley is described as the ‘shadow of death’, we know that in order for there to be a shadow, there also must be a light. That light is Jesus. Jesus walks in the valley with us. Jesus walks through the fire with us.
To stand on the mountain top, we have to pass through the valleys. We are not alone in our suffering and because of this truth, we can suffer ‘well’.