The Valley of the Shadow of Death

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

The Hebrew word translated “shadow of death” is used poetically for thick darkness (Job 3:5), as descriptive of Sheol (Job 10:21; 12:22; 38:17); figuratively of deep distress (Job 12:22; 16:16; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22 (https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/shadow-of-death/)

As I looked at my mom lying on the bed my heart was broken. She seemed so tiny and frail. I laid on the bed next to her, took her hand in mine and held it. “I’m here mom,” I whispered. “It’s Jean, your daughter, and I’m here.”

I wept uncontrollably.

The woman who had always been there for her family lay on the bed before me literally facing the valley of the shadow of death. My mom was unable to speak or move. Her one eye was closed and the other was moving back and forth as if looking from side to side. Her forehead furrowed as I spoke to her. Did she know I was there? Could she comprehend what I was saying?

I stayed with my mom for about an hour, talking to her, singing to her, and wiping the perspiration from her forehead. My two daughters stopped by and came in to say good bye to their grandma. We had no idea how long she would remain with us.

I live in Oklahoma. When I heard my mom wasn’t doing well, I booked a flight for that Saturday to Michigan so I could see her. I had originally planned to settle in and go see her on Sunday, but when I spoke to my brother, he said I may want to come right away. My mom passed away about an hour after I left her side.

Looking back on that day I keep thinking about “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” There are times in life where we may feel like we are on the brink of losing it and things are so dark. It may even be difficult to navigate through life due to the feeling of deep distress. We may even feel paralyzed by those things that are unseen.

When my husband and I were first married, if one of us got up to go the restroom, the other would hide in the darkness and jump out and scare the other one. We kept this up until I surprised my husband so much that he thought I was an intruder and almost punched me. Even if no one was hiding, the darkness was still scary to us because we never knew if something was there.

It is thought by some that the “valley of the shadow of death” was derived from the journey the shepherd took with their sheep. Often times, they would have to travel through deep ravines, darkened by over-hanging briars, etc. (Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/shadow-of-death/) During these times, the shepherd and the sheep were more susceptible to danger. They had no idea what was lying in the dark ready to pounce on them. The shepherd would use his rod to guide the sheep and help keep them from danger.

There was peace in the room with my mom that day because I knew she would be with Jesus and that I would see her again one day. We can have that same peace as we walk through the valleys of life if we truly grasp that we are not alone. The Lord is there, guiding us with His staff, and protecting us from the unknown.

No matter what you are facing today, God is with you. When you are faced with despair, ask the Lord to shine His light upon the darkness and bring revelation to your circumstances.

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9

 

“Lord Jesus, I lift up those who are reading this right now. Shine the light of your spirit into the darkness they are experiencing. Let them experience your peace. Let them sense you next to them, holding their hand, talking to them, and guiding them with your rod. We love you so much Lord Jesus. Thank you that we are never alone. Break the lies of the enemy over your people today. Thank you for the peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus name, Amen.”

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