When the Darkness Comes . . .

None of us like to think about it nor do we like to spend much time on it when we do. Life in this fallen world though, does force us to deal with it. That is death, tragedy, pain, and sorrow. What David referred to as "the valley of the shadow of death" in Psalm 23:4. The verse could also be translated, "the valley of darkness." It is a valley we would rather not have to walk through, although all of us have, are, or will be walking through it. Even though we know this, it always comes as a surprise when we find ourselves in it. If you've never spent time in the valley of darkness, just wait, all you have to do is live long enough and you will find yourself there. Therefore, it would be wise for us to prepare ourselves and our families for it. Thankfully, we can through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The world we live in is not a safe place to be. No matter how hard we work to make it more safe for us and our families, still we can never make it safe enough. Life and death can not be controlled within our hands. As much as we'd like to think we can prevent dark times from coming into our lives or the lives of our children, we ultimately can't. We are helpless in and of ourselves.

The main message of the Bible though, is that God came down into our dark world, and lived and suffered among us. The Lord Jesus saw the brokenness in the hearts of the people he lived among and taught. He looked into the sad eyes of the suffering and saw the darkness there, first-hand. Jesus felt and was overcome, by the sorrow of those who mourned their dead, even weeping with them (John 11:33-36).  The Son of God then, even went so far as to lay down His life, and went through His own dark valley by having the sin of all of His people cast upon Him, and suffering God's wrath for them. When we are in the dark valley and feel forsaken by God, we ought to remember Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, actually was. 

Therefore, we can have hope that since Christ suffered in our place, we can be unified with Him through our faith in Him. We can then have confidence that He is with us no matter how dark the valley gets for us to walk through. We can believe His promise to us that in this world we will have trouble, but He truly has overcome the world (John 16:33). There is a better world coming for all those who place their hope in Him (Rev. 21-22). In the darkest of times, the light of the world is with us. Therefore "whoever follows Christ will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). That does not mean we will not endure suffering, it does mean that no matter how dark our valley gets, there will always be a light shining for us. He is our life, even when we have no life in ourselves. He is our light of hope when all the circumstances around us are dark and despairing. He has promised to comfort us in the valley of the shadow of death, by His very presence there with us. "For You are with me" (Psalm 23:4)

It seems wise then to prepare ourselves for going into the valley of the shadow of death, by growing strong in our relationship with Jesus Christ now. Press on to know Him in His Word, (Hosea 6:3) and by living out the commands that He has given to us. Love Him with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Depend fully upon Him and the grace He provides, (Psalm 23:1) and do not lean upon your own understanding, and He will make your paths straight (Prov. 3:5-6) so that you will not stumble or get lost walking through the valley of darkness.