When I am going through tough times, my instinct is to convince myself it can’t be that bad. My strategy is to try to shrink the nature of the threat hoping that maybe I can get it small enough to feel afraid no longer.
The problem with this approach is that there are times when things really are that bad. There are times when we are in intense struggles, and the darkness around us is truly terrifying. In those times, my anxiety and my depression tend to get the best of me.
In this psalm, David describes how “even though” he is going through a valley described as the shadow of death, he isn’t afraid. He doesn’t use the word “if” but the words “even though” to indicate that he is already in the midst of it. Maybe you feel like that describes where you are right now: the valley of the shadow of death.
David says that his comfort is staying close to the one who has the weapons to defend him from danger. A shepherd’s rod and staff are the tools to keep their sheep safe. They are the tools to fight back any enemies that might strike. David isn’t strategizing on his ability to fight fear, but he is pressing into the one who can drive fear away.
Fear and anxiety are the enemies I am daily in battle with if you are like me. Every day, my heart and my mind rush to imagine the worst. But Psalm 23:5 says that God prepares a feast in front of our enemies. My enemies (and likely yours) are my fears and anxiety. Imagine your fear and anxiety yelling at you, with all the “what if” thoughts and threats of potentially harmful events to come.
Now imagine God pushing them aside and in front of the angst and worry, him providing you with a wonderful feast of peace, rest, and assurances. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that might go wrong in your future. You might be facing tough circumstances right now. But God longs to push those fears and doubts aside and make room for the comfort and rest your weary soul needs.
As a shepherd, the text states that he leads us “beside quiet waters.” There is a beautiful creek not far from our house. It is quiet and peaceful. It is the place I go to sit and reflect when I need to get away from all the noise in my head. My prayer for you today is that you will allow the Shepherd to guide you to that place, regardless of the darkness of the valley around you.
This devotional by BroadStreet Publishing is available at Bible.com.