Reading: Psalm 23


…and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world”.  Matthew 28:20 (Living)



As children probably among the first scriptural verses we learned was the 23rd Psalm.  Ironically, it will probably be part of our final service when we depart this world.


Since we live in a retirement community, we have frequent occasions to attend funerals or memorial services.  A common feature of many of these services is the reading and expounding on the 23rd Psalm, especially the fourth verse:


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; they rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23: 4 (KJV)


More recent translations tend to render slightly different wordings, which do not so greatly emphasize the end of one’s life but rather seems to focus on those dark moments we encounter as we go through life.  One example of this translation:


“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

                    I fear no evil;

          For you are with me;

                    Your rod and your staff --

                    they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 (NRSV)


We have all encountered “dark times” during our lives, when we felt overwhelmed by the circumstances that have fallen upon us.  We may feel depressed and helpless to deal with the situation.  We may even feel guilty and responsible for not preventing what has befallen us.  Frequently, we are even tempted to blame others for our dilemmas. 


When we find ourselves in a dark valley, we may devote considerable energy and time to attempt to discern why we are in such despair.   What could we have done or should have done to prevent the situation?  Maybe this exercise has a bit of worth in that it may be of value to us in avoiding certain situations in the future.  However, I feel that it would be of greater benefit to humble ourselves and ask the Lord, “What would you have me do?  Give me strength to cope with his situation.”


I suspect some of the misfortunes that come our way are designed to teach us that we are not in control and the source of our strength is not in ourselves but rather in our faith that God, who is with us both in these dark valleys as well as in occasions of joy.


As a believer, I feel confident that He will be with me when I pass from this world as I have felt His presence so many times as I have passed through the “dark valleys” of life and I am thankful for His continuing presence.