While navigating the winding Irish countryside, I marveled at the view. Countless sheep roamed freely as they grazed in pastures near the road. Every few miles, my husband and I would pull over to photograph the scene.
As I watched the wooly bunch meander over mountainous terrain, I knew their shepherd was nearby. There was no doubt in my mind that he was keeping a watchful eye lest one of them wander astray.
In both the Old and New Testament, God is characterized as a good shepherd (John 10:11-18). The Bible often describes God in word-pictures so that we can understand Him and how He relates to us in a tangible way.
King David understood this imagery well when he penned these famous words:
“Even though I walk through the valley of deep darkness, I will fear no harm, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
In Israel, a shepherd will lead from the front of the herd during daylight hours. But when night falls, the shepherd moves to the center of his flock so that he can walk among his sheep.
His presence in the darkness is what helps them feel safe.
Walking through a valley of deep darkness can be scary and confusing. Unfamiliar and overwhelming. Every twist and turn creates doubt and uncertainty when you can’t see and you don’t know the way.
But the shepherd understands the terrain. He has been there before.
He is aware of the dangers. With his rod, he powerfully protects. With his staff, he skillfully guides. He can see a way through even when the sheep are unable to.
In our most painful seasons, God is not distant. He doesn’t watch over us with a careless eye. He is not running ahead with the strong while the rest of us limp and lag behind.
When darkness falls, God draws near. He is
If you’re in a difficult season right now, remain close to your Shepherd. Listen for His voice. Trust in His leadership. You are safe in His care because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
God will never leave you in the valley of shadows. It is a place He always lead you through. When morning dawns and darkness finally dissipates, you’ll find that even though you couldn’t always see Him, God was there.
He was with you all along.
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