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.
Photograph by photographer Clark Pickel used with permission. All rights reserved.
I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death many times. As a nurse, it is my job; as a friend, daughter, and wife it has been my privilege and honor to accompany those I love to the portals of Heaven. For those whose faith was in Christ, though there was pain, suffering, and fear of dying, a peace came that cannot be explained and a presence of pure love entered the room as life ended and the next life began. For those who had refused the love of Christ, the atmosphere was far different. The pain, suffering and fear did not give way to peace but fear and suffering intensified and the atmosphere became so electrified with an evil (there is no other word to describe it) presence caregivers and family often fled the room and refused to re-enter. The unseen battle for a soul is somehow very tangible.
Psalm 23 is the first memorized Scripture for many a Bible student and a standard reading of comfort at funerals. King David, the poet laureate, remembers his time as a shepherd and the lessons learned–life lessons–lessons in God’s classroom: provision, protection, perseverance, providence, preparation, poverty, plenty, and peering into and at times entering the valley of the shadow of death.
Death is not natural! God NEVER intended His creation to suffer death. Even Jesus as a human being asked if there wasn’t another way to deal with sin, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:39) Our minds will not wrap around death because God did not “hard-wire” us for facing death. Death, the penalty for sin, was laid out by God the Creator from the very beginning (Genesis 3:3). The greatest news of all–the LORD is with us as we walk THROUGH! We don’t stay there, and there is protection and peace even here in this valley.
Jesus, descendant of David’s house, faced death and went straight to hell where he single-handedly took the keys of hell from Satan’s greedy grasp. He destroyed the death certificates of ALL who believe He, Jesus, is God’s son and that He was crucified, dying a criminal’s death and three days later defeated death with a knock-out punch to the enemy’s head by His resurrection from the dead offering us eternal life.
Do you believe John 3:16? For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY begotten son and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
If you have trusted John 3:16 you need not fear death. We ALL will walk through this valley. There is no escape. John 3:16 demands a decision. Let the Lord be your comfort, your protection as you walk through this very dark place. It is not scary at all if you know Jesus because He carries you the entire journey THROUGH the valley. You come out of the valley into eternal life in Paradise.
Dedicated to the memory of Clark Pickel and in honor of his family.