4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. —Psalm 23:4-6
You have nothing to fear. In this Psalm, David said, “I will fear no evil.” The confidence he experienced as he faced the future rested in a God who never fails in His role as our Shepherd. Notice how David shifted his attention in this verse from talking about the Shepherd to talking to the Shepherd, “For you are with me.” Too many people want the benefit of claiming “God is with me,” but spend too little time talking to the God who is with them!
What do you fear as you’re going through the valley? It may not be the valley itself, not what you’re in the middle of, but what’s coming afterward. For someone who gets the news about a child with special needs—it’s not the valley they think about; it’s the rest of life. Or the diagnosis of a chronic illness—it’s not the news today itself; it’s tomorrow and next week. The worry of, What will happen to me? Will I be okay? The results and outcomes drive our fears. In the depth of the valley, you do not have to fear the future. You don’t have to worry about your reputation, or about your needs being met, or about losing it. So often we fear not the issue itself, but the outcome/results/consequences.
Nothingcomes into your life but what Almighty God allows. God says, “I will let her go through that. She will draw down upon My strength. Allow it.” God may also say, “No. Don’t allow that. It will overwhelm him. He is not ready for that.” Nothing comes into your life that God doesn’t already know about. And since He is with you, you don’t have to fear.
Can fear be entirely avoided? Probably not. But Scripture gives us an alternative plan that prepares against and responds to fear. Psalms 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” This passage gives us hope when we find ourselves overtaken by fear. Instead of wallowing in it, you can put your trust in God. You can deliberately turn away from fear and toward God. This affirmation is also found in Isaiah 12:2, “I will trust and will not be afraid.” Why wait for fears to come before you decide to trust God? If we practice trusting God as a daily exercise of living, we will probably never know how many fearful things we have simply walked right by because our attention was on the One who can keep us and who is not threatened by any fearful thing. Maybe you are used to the when-I’m-afraid-I-will-trust approach. It’s time for you to practice greater confidence in your Shepherd today and live in the place of ultimate victory—I will trust and not be afraid.
- Why is it better to trust and not be afraid than to approach life with a when-I-am-afraid-I-will-trust attitude? Under what circumstances might this be helpful to remember?
Father, I confess that sometimes my fears reveal I haven’t been trusting as I know I should. I was either trusting in something or someone else instead of You and fear made me see just how fragile everything else is compared with You. Thank You for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank You for never letting me down and always proving Yourself trustworthy. Help me learn to trust You increasingly. In Jesus’ name, amen.