“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
I will never tell you that fear or anxiety is a choice. They are overwhelming emotions that can cripple you and make you not be able to think straight. You can go through physical changes associated with fear such as increased heart rate, digestive issues, shortness of breath, chills or increased sweating, and even trembling. Once when I was going through a particularly fearful situation, I would find myself thinking literally, “breathe in, breathe out” just to try to steady my breathing. It’s a hard thing to go through. And for me, it usually is a season that I am having trouble seeing how it could possibly work out for any good. But even though we can’t choose whether we are going to be anxious or fearful about a situation we can choose to fight and find ways to combat the fear.
The passage from this well known Psalm addresses walking through a dark valley. David calls it the valley of the shadow of death. I am not sure if David was thinking of his own death, if he was going through a season of loss in his life, or just a season of very difficult circumstances but calling it the valley of the shadow of death makes us think of very hard times. However, David makes a declaration, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” David was recognizing God’s presence with him even in his darkest valley. Friends that is the first step in combatting fear is to recognize the presence of God in your circumstances and asking Him to go with you through the valley. Yesterday, I gave other tips on staring down the fear. I know for me when I am going through a particularly hard season of life, I have to put God’s word so in my face that it is literally every where I turn. For me personally, it is my only way through.
Now let me also say that if the fear and anxiety are so overwhelming that you are experiencing some of the physical changes that I mentioned, or if you find yourself sinking into a depression that seems deep and dark, please don’t just try to combat it yourself, but call a friend or call in the cavalry and seek out a Christian counselor. I have mentioned things that have helped me to combat fear and anxiety this week, but I have also sought out counseling in the past when I needed the re-enforcement to get through the dark seasons. I implore you to make sure it is a christian counselor. First of all, if you are a child of God, you will want to speak on spiritual matters and a Christian counselor will be able to identify, but also their therapy will ultimately point you back to the word as well.
The only way we can say “I will fear no evil” when we are walking through dark valleys of death and sorrow are to walk through them with Him. Maybe your valley of the shadow of death is literal, maybe you are experiencing a season of loss. Maybe you feel like you are in the valley of the shadow of death, because you aren’t just experiencing one loss of a loved one, but several. Maybe your valley is dealing with your own mortality because of an illness, maybe it is a season of dark despair of poor choices, your own or someone close to you, maybe it is a diagnosis, maybe it is financial loss, whatever your valley is look to the Shepherd and ask Him to walk through it with you! If it is your own poor choices, He may use His rod and staff to get you back on track but He will use it gently.
Sweet Lord, walk with us through our darkest valleys, remind us of the tools you have already given us that we may say I will Fear No Evil! Amen