Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Whether it’s dark valleys or dark alleys, darkness often stirs a sense of fear – especially if we’re alone. And the psalmist knew valleys carried dangers of death, whether from wild animals or opportunistic thieves.
David often faced the darkness of death. He faced lethal beasts as a shepherd boy and battled giants (1 Samuel 17), he narrowly escaped murder as a musician and led Israel’s army (1 Samuel 18–19), and he repeatedly had to hide in dark caves to avoid his enemies (1 Samuel 22–24).
Darkness can take many forms on our frontlines. Perhaps at work – heavy workload, tight deadlines, or job insecurities – or perhaps closer to home – family breakdowns, health issues, or financial challenges. All these and more amount to pressures on our faith.
Thankfully, our resilience doesn’t depend on our own strength. Sheep are among the most vulnerable creatures. They wouldn’t make it on their own in a valley full of hazards and predators. They don’t have the tools to fight, the strength to run fast, or the navigational abilities to know which direction to run if they had to. Close proximity to their shepherd ensures their protection. What helps our fear in the cold darkness is the warming light of God’s presence.
Psalm 23 is reflective of the Bible’s honesty about life. It doesn’t depict an easy journey. Jesus himself said following him would be a narrow path. But when the journey gets uncomfortable, it’s the nearness of God’s presence that comforts and protects our souls. This doesn’t mean the darkness becomes enjoyable or anxiety-free. Rather, while we’re in the valley we don’t have to live fearfully because our Good Shepherd has not forgotten or forsaken us. He is with us!
Throughout the Psalms, David regularly refers to God’s presence as his ‘light’ through darkness. It’s what gave him courage (Psalm 27:1). It made him aware of God’s inescapable yet intimate love through his Spirit (Psalm 139:7–12). It brought him clarity and guidance through God’s Word (Psalm 119:105). God’s light fuelled David’s faith through life’s pressures.
Where might God’s light dispel darkness and bring peace to pressures on our frontlines? Perhaps wisdom for tricky conversations, comfort through long work hours, protection from lies and temptations, or his peace over anxiety. Nothing is too dark for God’s piercing light.
‘Jesus […] said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”’ (John 8:12).
LICC Church Associate and Associate Pastor & Discipleship Lead, Christ Church London
As you walk with the Shepherd this week, where do you need his light on your frontlines? What difference would an awareness of his presence make? Join the conversation below.
As you reflect on God as your shepherd, why not listen to this song to start your day or as you journey into work? Remind yourself of God’s presence beside you while going about your daily tasks. May it prompt you to pray for your frontline this week.