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. Psalm 23:4

What a contrast to the green pastures and quiet waters of verse 2! The traditional rendering in the King James Version of “the valley of the shadow of death” articulates the ominous nature of this journey. This is a dark and dangerous place.

Many of us have been through difficult times; the puritans wrote of the dark night of the soul where it feels like heaven is silent and God is nowhere to be found. You may well feel like you are on your own, stuck in the middle of the most difficult, darkest valley you have ever faced.

There are three key lessons to learn from this image.

Firstly, notice that you are walking through the valley – it is part of a journey and will not last forever. Where before we saw a picture of lying down in the green pastures of God’s grace and provision, here it is a walk. This situation is this temporary.

Secondly, God your Shepherd is with you. No matter where you might find yourself today – God is with you and nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from His love. Although it might not feel like it, be confident -God is with you, and you need not be afraid.

Finally, the image of the rod and staff remind us that God our Shepherd has all the tools necessary to guide you in the right direction, fend off any attacks and pull you out of any situation.

Sometimes it is necessary to pass through dark valleys to get to places of blessing and rest. You have nothing to fear! God is with you, He will never forsake you and He loves you unconditionally.