Psalm 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. (KJV)
Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (KJV)
Recently, my family experienced the loss of my husband's mother. During the final weeks of her illness, I was encouraged to see that she was comforted by her children and grandchildren who stood by her side until the time of her passing. With the love and presence of family surrounding her, the fear and dread of death seemed to me no longer intimidating.
Many believers throughout the centuries have found similar comfort through Psalm 23's depiction of the Lord as our Shepherd, who also stands by us at the hour of our death. Walking through the dark valley of this life is described as only a shadow, incapable of inflicting any real harm. But most importantly, with the Lord by our side, we can be confident that there is nothing to fear. As a shepherd uses his staff to lift a lost sheep gently from danger, so, too, our Lord, by the presence of His Holy Spirit, will lift us when we are feeling lost along the way. And with His rod, the absolute authority of His Word, He will defend us whenever we are threatened.
Appropriately, the following words from today's Scripture were spoken at the funeral service for my mother-in-law: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" This verse reminded me that the shadow of death is only temporary and cannot overpower the light of God's presence and eternal love.
Therefore, as Christians, we are able to walk in hope through the changing seasons of life and the toils and snares of this world. Then, after leaving the shadows behind, we come face to face with the substance and reality of our faith, which is Christ Jesus our Lord, the Good Shepherd of our souls.
Prayer: Good Shepherd, in You, we have no fear as we walk through the dark valleys of this world, trusting that Your rod and staff will comfort us. May Your glory and power surround us all the days of our lives. For Your name's sake, lead us safely to our blessed home, where we will dwell in Your holy presence forevermore, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.