Monday, June 13, 2011

Even Though, Devo 4, Psalm 23

Within the last few weeks, Steve’s grandmother died, Sandy’s mom died, the full-term grand-daughter of another friend was still-born, and the 35 year old nephew of still another good friend was found dead.  These friends are walking through the valley of the reality of death.  I’m walking with them.

And all deaths are not physical.  Our son experienced the death of his job this past winter.  Other friends are living with the death of their plans to be agricultural missionaries as their young daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia last week.  Another friend is experiencing the death of his dream to play football his senior year of college because he broke his foot.  It was also the death of his summer job.  And the list goes on.

Life is full of death.  Hard things, really hard things.

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...”  Then David says an amazing thing, “…I will fear no evil.   How can he say that?  How can he believe that? 

He can say that and post it for all of us to be encouraged by because he trusts who God says He is and what God is doing in and for him. 

  • He believes that God is with him even though he is walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  He knows God is omnipresent. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” .  David trusts the God who says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;”.  Isaiah 43:2a.  Even in the valley, I am not alone.
  • David knows that his shepherd carries a rod and a staff.  And that is a comfort to him.  The rod is a rod of protection.  It could be used to protect the sheep from other predators.  Or at times it could be used to protect the sheep from themselves.  The staff provides support.  Like a modern day cane, the staff is there to provide the support needed to help the shepherd traverse the rough terrain.  Another Psalmist declares, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1
  • David also knows that the hard things, those things that can appear as enemies are powerless to prevent him from enjoying God’s good provision for him.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Psalm 23:5  I’ve heard it said “every cloud has a silver lining”.  It sounds trite, but I think it’s true.  Even though David never read Paul’s words, in his heart he knew, “And we know that for those who love God all things word together for good, …” Romans 8:28a
  • Lastly, he believes these truths because he knows God personally.  In the beginning of this Psalm David refers to God in the third person, “he”.  But when he passes the “even though” and life is really hard, God is referred to as “you”.  David has a personal relationship with God and it is especially personal in the hard times.  “… you are with me; your rod and your staff; …You prepare a table …you anoint my head with oil; …”  
But the rub is the timing.  When will I experience the truth of Romans 8:28 when I’m in the midst of the valleys?  I wonder if the people from Jerusalem who were being held captive in Babylon wondered the same thing.  Part of their story is recorded in Jeremiah 29.  For me, I have to remember three things:
  • I have to keep reviewing the truths of Scripture even though sometimes they are hard to believe.  I often find myself praying, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
  • I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have the big picture.  God does.
  • Sometimes when I'm in the midst of a hard thing, I find it difficult to pray.  I'm thankful for friends I can call on who will pray for me and for the situation.
“Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Psalm 23:4 and 5, The Message

To be continued

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