VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH: Being mighty in spirit surrounded by dangerous forces of darkness. It is easy to feel alone like Ezekiel did in the wilderness. It is easy to get shaken by the dark storms. Is there hope in the middle of darkness?? Many times, when faced with a scary situation, it helps to ask, “What’s the worst that could happen? I know that many of my friends will only master the Valley of the Shadow of Death IF they sense God’s presence. Countless men facing death in the foxholes, only came thru their ordeal by clinging close to God.
MIGHTY IN SPIRIT. We have all heard of men who did have courage when surrounded by danger. Yahshua was a master at it. His forerunner John the Baptist was good at it too. And then there was Stephen the first official martyr for his faith. Some prideful educated men who thought their ideas were hot stuff tried to defeat Stephen with words. “They were not able to resist the wisdom & the spirit by which he spake.” Outraged that their pride had been wounded, they stirred up the people, and told lies as false witnesses in order to kill him. Stephen never wavered in his mighty spirit. William Tyndale was another man mighty in spirit. When his first manuscript translating the Bible got destroyed, he started over again. His final success in translating the Bible into English got him death by strangulation. He remained mighty in spirit to the end, converting several of his jailors who said that if Tyndale were not a good Christian, they would not know who to trust. Each of these men, had to drink the Lord’s cup of bitter medicine. Bitter medicine comes with the territory of life, and the Lord’s bitter cup of medicine is something we may have to drink. Job asked himself what’s the worst that could happen, and found the answer, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him”.(A) Job was the first book written, the last one has a similar message, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer….Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”(B)
VENTURING ACROSS THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Not every scary situation leads to death. Quite often in life we have endure storms, & continue living. The power of the words of the 23rd Psalm are amazing. “Yea, 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over….” The psalmist who wrote these words is totally God-centered. The pilgrim ventures into the dark valley, a chilling foreboding ravine, aware that death lurks there, but he knows that God is with him. In spite of the ominous darkness, he fears no evil. The fear of the Valley is the worst part of the nightmarish trip. But that spirit of torment doesn’t take hold of him. The dismal dark Valley represents the dark Kingdom of Death, yet in spite of the darkness, the path through the Valley is the right road for the pilgrim. As he goes thru, he transitions from darkness to light, and to a feast hosted by the good Lord. Evil can’t endanger us forever. At some point, those wonderful words will be ours, “My cup runneth over.”
In Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), when the Christian reaches the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the path through it is overcast with discouraging clouds of confusion. Not only is it dark, but a confusing fog obscures the way. It reminds me of the spiritual Twilight Zone us modern pilgrims have around us. “For the [Holy] Spirit [of God] searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”(C) Rather than do a rapture dawdle, let us recapture the truth. The World’s Wonderland is not so wonderful. Let us light up our World with the light of God’s truths. Let’s keep it spiritually real, “Woe to those…who substitute bitter for sweet, & sweet for bitter.”(D) As you suffer, you are not alone. As you suffer, if you, like the Psalmist, can go through the Valley, you may inspire others coming behind you. Countless others have made it thru the Valley with joy, and we can too!! Be encouraged my friend.
(A) Job 13:15 (B) REV 2:10 (C) 1 COR 2:10 (D) ISA 5:20