“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) In this verse David was describing a situation that many of us are way too familiar with. We go through valleys. Dark valleys also known as the valleys of the shadow of death are seasons when things are rough and we are surrounded by darkness. It is hard to have hope when we are in the dark valleys. It is easy to succumb to fear. It is a miserable time and the end is not in sight in many instances. This past week has been a dark valley. Many would agree that this year has been one of the darkest valleys they have experienced. The shadow of death is this horrible feeling that creeps into your soul, messes up your spirit and depletes your body of energy. That crippling feeling can emerge from the smallest situations. A small valley can cause a lot of damage to our lives. I have learned to never undermine other people’s valleys even when they seemed small to me. We just never know how much impact a dark situation can have on someone. “The darker the valley, the bigger the anxiety” is not always true. It is the reaction to the valley that makes a difference. David talks about not being afraid in the valley. He is able to have peace in the valley. He reacts to his valley with a truth that is bigger than his circumstances. That is the goal. Having a truth, a belief that overrides the darkness of the valley. That truth, that light can make the worst place look like a walk in the park when it dominates us and it is all we go by. David knew that the Lord was with him in the valley so he had absolutely no reason to fear. Imagine walking in the worst area you have ever been in and wearing a smile on your face the whole time. It sounds strange and almost impossible but it can happen. God can give us peace in the darkest valleys. We ask Him to remove the valleys and to take us to a place where everything is green and beautiful. His answer is to often develop the green and the beauty inside of us so we can walk in peace in the darkness.
The dark valleys of life are part of the landscape that we traverse and we can’t jump from a valley to a mountaintop in seconds. God can make that happen of course but most of the time He is more concerned about the status of our hearts like I said earlier. His desire is to give us a spirit of power and faith so we can face the valleys and walk through them without any anxiety. I can say that I get my share of dark valleys like anyone else but I can also say that I have had more and more peace in those valleys. I can see them coming and I also see that the Lord is there with me in the valleys. God has a plan for my life and He has a path I follow but His path comes across roads that try to derail His plan. I end up on roads with no holy pavement. There are cobblestones of problems and trouble. Those stones the enemy places on the road are meant to trip me and to make me fall. I hold on to the Lord the best I can so I can stand tall and keep walking. Before long those roads appear as valleys and dim the sun with fear and despair. Have you noticed how when you get hit with trials everything gets dark? It is like an eclipse of the light of the Lord takes place. God is still behind the eclipse and if you look at it from a different angle, you can still see His light. The power of the dark valleys comes from the fact that what we see seems stronger and bigger than what we know. We know God is almighty and we know He is always good but the darkness around us overwhelms our senses and puts our faith in a pit of darkness. Getting out of that pit is no easy task. I find a lot of inspiration in David’s words. He was so close to the Lord that he had no doubt that he would make it through the valley. This is a great encouragement to us. If we focus on God being with us, His peace will invade us. God remains close to us through the whole ordeal.
“Ask and you shall receive” is a way of dealing with most problems we face. Since God is with us, we can have the confidence that asking Him anything will result in the right answer. I encourage you to ask for peace when you are in a valley. Ask for peace before you ask for anything else. Ask for the power to deal with the valley. Ask for a boost of faith when fear is doing its best to stifle hope. God has authority over everything. He can handle your problems. He has all it takes to change things and turn your situation around. The valley is not too dark for Him. His presence alone brings light. When we pray to Him and hang on to his Word, it transforms the atmosphere. Darkness gets kicked out by light. God’s light always wins so you can be walking in the shadow of death with God’s peace making a way through the valley. Supernatural peace does exist and you can expect it in the name of Jesus. Pray for it and trust that it will be given to you. Let God conquer you. Give Him your heart even more during the walk in the valleys. Submit to Him. Yield to His Spirit. Peace is available and I know that you are going to receive God’s peace when you recognize that He is there and He is the center of your attention. The mountaintop is your destination. You are not going to go deeper into the valley. Trust that God owns the process. Peace in the valley is coming. Stay encouraged!
Suggested reading: Psalm 23:4; Psalm 118:6; Acts 18:9-10