Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comforts too. (II Corinthians 1:3-5)
God is the God of all comfort. During the dark valleys of our lives, we experience God in deeper ways. David did.
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)
Most people apply this verse to the death experience itself. There has not been one funeral at which I officiated that I was not asked to read Psalm 23. It is comforting and certainly is appropriate at such times. But notice the wording of the Psalm — Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Each word and each phrase is important to understand. Even though — Don’t be shocked when you do. You will! I walk — our lives on this earth are described in terms of a walk. Through the valley — during our lives on this earth (our walk) we will have pleasant mountain top experiences and we will have difficult valley experiences, the low times in our lives. Of the shadow of death — it is not the death experience itself; it is the shadow of death. Haven’t you been through such times when you felt that death would be better than what you are having to experience? David did.
My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest, yes, I would wonder far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” (Psalm 55:4-8)
David was walking through the shadow of death. Look at how he felt. He was in anguish. He was “scared to death.” He was filled with fear and trembling. He was overwhelmed with trials. He wanted out, to fly away, far away. He wanted relief from the raging wind and the tempest he was experiencing. You see, this is why David called it the valley of the shadow of death. It seemed like death, even though it wasn’t.
But what did God teach David about these shadow of death experiences” I will fear no evil, for You are with me. David came to realize that even in his shadow of death experiences, he had nothing to fear. Why? Because the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort was with Him during these times. He was not alone. Almighty God was with him and He is with you. Hear His comforting words — I love you and I am with you!
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