Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Through It All

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

Many people know Psalm 23 from memory.
Psalm 23 is probably the most read and most memorized verses in the Bible.
We teach it to our children, and we read it at funerals.
We read it for its comfort and for its inspiration.
It tells about flocks of sheep in rich, green fields, quietly gathered around their caring
and protective shepherd.

The 23rd psalm is a guide to life.
It provides instructions on how to live every day with faith and assurance.
The psalm begins with the remainder that the Lord is our shepherd.
We need a shepherd, and Jesus is our Shepherd.

We do not go have to go through life alone.
We have a Shepherd who is always with us.
Wherever we go, our Shepherd goes with us.
When we lie down in green pastures or go through the valley of the shadow of death,
our Shepherd is with us and leading us.

Whether we are at home, or at work, or at school, He is with us.
If we are in the hospital or a funeral home, our Lord, our Shepherd is already there with us.
This verse also applies when it comes to dying, but it also applies to our living life each day,
And if you are now going through some trials and tribulations, then, as you are walking through
the valley of the shadow of death, it will bring assurance if you would just repeat the words
of this fourth verse:
"Yea, 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
."

Notice the words are in the present tense.
They are ready to help us as we go through the dark valley.
Though I walk, this very moment, through the valley of the shadow of death,
our Lord -- our Shepherd is with us.

Every word in this verse is filled with meaning.
"Yea, though I walk."
We do not have to rush to get through the valley.
We can calmly walk through the valley with our Shepherd leading us.
This walk indicates a steady advance following our Shepherd who knows where to lead us.
He knows where the path will take us.
He knows what we will face at the end of the path.
We know that we will be safe all along the way because our Shepherd is with us.

As we walk, we pace ourselves.
The valley of the shadow of death is not the place where we should run or stop.
It is a place to walk carefully and steady.
The sheep who will have to journey the steep walls of a mountainside must be certain
that their steps are careful and planned.
Running would be destructive.

Different people walk at different paces, some are slower and more careful than others.
Some may walk with hesitation while others may take bold steps.
The valley of the shadow of death is no place to rush.
It is also not the place to ignore the difficult steps that have to be taken.
It is a place to walk.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
So, it is a place where we should be walking.
The valley of shadows is not a place to camp out.
It is not a place where we should put up our tent for a while.
It is not a place for us to stop.
The valley is not a resting place.

The valley of the shadows is a place where we are called upon to keep on walking.
because suffering is not only something we will go through, it is also something
that we have to get through, it is the passageway to obedience.
The walk will require perseverance.
It is only a passage way from one pasture to another.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death."
The sheep must make steady progress..
He says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley."
We are generally in a hurry to get our trouble over, like those who say,
"If medicine must be taken, let get it over with."
There is a season for all things.

Remember, faith is not in impatient rushing.
"He that believes shall not make haste."
Faith must be quick in serving God, but it must be patient when it must wait for Him.

The Psalmist is telling us not to hurry.
"Yea, though, I walk," he says — quietly, calmly, and steadily.
Our God will give us the strength to walk and not faint.
David is saying, "I shall walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death
as quietly as I walk my garden in the evening
."

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.." (Psalms 23:4, (NKJV)

We notice that a significant shift takes place in this fourth verse.
Up to this point, life has been good for the sheep.
He has talked about what a great shepherd he has, and how that shepherd has supplied all his needs.
He has talked about how the shepherd helps him find green pastures for food and clean water for drinking.
He has said that his shepherd restores his failing health, and leads him down good paths.

But in verse 4, it is no longer in third person -- "he restores my soul";
it's now second person -- "for you are with me".

The sheep is now talking directly to his shepherd.
You will understand that, when you notice the simultaneous shift in tone.
Life has taken a downward turn; the green pastures have turned into dark valleys.

These ravines would be filled with danger.
They will face predators, and there will be places where the journey will be rough.
There is also the possibility of falling off a high cliff.
There could be thieves in the valley who will attempt to steal the sheep.
Going through these dangerous situations was a normal part of a sheep's life.
So, it could be dangerous going from pasture to pasture.
The valley was a part of the life of a sheep.

The words, "shadow of death" portray death as a deep shadow or as deep darkness.
It is not called "the valley of death."
It is called " the valley of the shadow of death."

Shadows cannot hurt us.
It is the shadow of death.
It is not death.
It is the shadow of death.

Death is casting its shadow of gloom and despair over that valley.
This applies to any path of gloom or sadness and to any scene of trouble or sorrow,
to any to any dark and dangerous way.
The shadow of death has followed us from our birth, and will follow us to our death.
And all along the paths through that valley, God will be our safe and sure guide.

The same Shepherd who restored our soul, and who leads us in the path of righteousness
is now leading us through the valley of the shadow of death.
This is not death, but it can cause us to think that we are going to die.

Someday, a dark shadow will come over our lives, and we will be tempted to panic.
But we must remember that shadows are always bigger than the reality.

When our daughter was two, she would say her prayers, and get a goodnight kiss,
and then her mother and I could go to our bedroom.
Almost every night -- twenty minutes later, we would hear her cry, "Daddy, I'm afraid."

I would go back into the bedroom, and ask her why she was afraid.
And she would say, "Look at the scary ghosts on the wall."
A night light close to the floor was casting a shadow on the wall of all her stuffed animals.
I would tell her that they were only shadows, and that they would not hurt her.
Just telling her was not enough.
I had to turn the light on, and then, the shadows were gone.

Shadows cannot hurt us.
Shadows are images without substance.
There is a big difference between a truck and a shadow.
Shadows can not hurt us – they can only scare us.
A truck could run over us and hurt us -- even kill us.

A shadow cannot stop us on our pathway -- not even for a moment.
The shadow of a dog cannot bite.
The shadow of death cannot harm us.

When you see a shadow, you know that there is light somewhere.
When you are in the valley, you might think that you are all alone.
But when there is a shadow, the light of God's presence is also there.

Look away from the shadow, and look at the light, and the shadow will fall behind you.
Jesus is the light of the world.
When you are in the valley of the shadow of death -- look to Jesus!

If you look at the world, you will be distressed,
if you look within, you will be depressed,
but if you look at Jesus, you will be at rest.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace
."

How can we deal with the dark valleys in our lives?
Dark valleys will happen in our lives.
There are some who may be coming out of one, right now, or some may be in the middle
of one, right now, or some are heading into one, right now.
We can not avoid the dark valleys.
We read In Job 5:7 that "Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward."

We can't plan on the time when dark valleys will come.
We can't schedule for them on our calendars.
They can come at the most inconvenient times.
They can come when we don't have time for them, and are not prepared for them.

Have you ever had a good time for your car to break down?
Have you ever had a good time to get sick?
Have you had a good time for a hurricane?
Have you ever found a good time to lose your job?
Have you ever found a good time to get robbed?
Have you ever found a good time to lose your home?

Jeremiah 4:20 says, "Disaster after disaster is reported, for the whole land is destroyed.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my tent curtains, in a moment
."
In a moment - at an unpredictable time - dark valleys can come!.

No one is immune from dark valleys.
No one can escape from the dark valleys of life.
Everyone has problems!
Good people and bad people; rich people and poor people have dark valleys.

Remember dark valleys are temporary.
They don't last forever.
Dark valleys are like tunnels.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Some dark valleys seem to last for an eternity, but dark valleys are temporary – heaven is eternal.

The valley we are going through can lead us to higher ground.
Every dark valley has a purpose.
Faith is built in the valley.
God wants us to grow and mature.
That is impossible without valleys.
The only way to the mountaintop is through the valley.

Therefore let us walk on and never fear.
Let us be sure that if we walk in at one end of the valley, we shall walk out at the other end.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley."
The word, "through," is comforting and assuring.
Just as the train enters into the dark tunnel of tribulation, the sheep can say,
"I shall come out on the other side.
It may be very dark ,and it may be a long tunnel, but I will come out on the other side
."

So it is with every child of God.
Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will go "through" it.

The journey of sheep through a valley is a journey from pasture to pasture.
The journey through the valley of the shadow of death is a journey through which we go
to arrive at a better place.
Going through the valley is a life-changing transition that will bring us to a new place,
and even to a better place

Following our Shepherd is the right thing to do, and He will bring us to the very best place.
We need to remember that it is not walking in the valley, but walking through the valley.

George Everett Ross, a pastor who was overwhelmed with difficulty and tragedy
said this in one of his sermons:
"I have served in the ministry thirty years, almost thirty-one.
I have come to understand that there are two kinds of faith.
One says, "if", and the other says, "though".


God has a reason for taking us through dark valleys.
God's purpose is to build our character.
He is preparing us for eternity.

God has a purpose for our dark valleys of doubt, despair, discouragement, and defeat.
There are financial dark valleys, and there dark valleys in our relationships.
There will be many kinds of dark valleys in our lives.
But God will bring us through them.

First Peter 1:6-7 reminds if of this:
"You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials
so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes
though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
."
The small problems or the big problems all have a purpose.
They are shaping our lives.

How do you know that you will be faithful unless you are faced with unfaithfulness?
How do you know how much endurance you have unless you have to face tough times?
How do you know if you can trust God in difficult times – unless you go through tough times?

"I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I'd never had a problem
I wouldn't know that He could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word."
--
Through It All!

If you are going through a dark valley, there is hope in Jesus Christ.
He can give you peace as you trust him.
Christians have problems; financial, family, and physical problems.
In the valley, what will you focus upon?
The shadow of death, or the Lord of light?

There is no shadow without a light somewhere.
When you are in the valley, you might think that you are all alone.
If there is a shadow, it means the light of God's presence is there.

Turn away from the shadow, and look at the light -- look to Jesus,
and the shadow will fall behind you.
Jesus is the light of the world.
When you are in the valley of the shadow of death, look to Jesus!

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth
will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace
."

Sermon adapted from many sources by Dr. Harold L. White