4Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.Psalm 23:4
The translation of this verse is particulary comforting to me. Years ago, my sister and I housesat for a friend while she was on vacation. She had a son a few years older than us who didn’t live at home, but liked to bring friends there to party. After an unpleasant encounter with him the first day we were staying, we felt uneasy about being there alone. My dad came and stayed with us. Sure enough, the son showed up in the middle of the night with a friend. Dad greeted him at the door, asking what he needed. The young man was surprised to find my dad there and retrieved a few things from the bathroom and hurried on his way.
I often think of that night and remember how comforted I was by my dad’s presence. He didn’t threaten or hurt anyone, he didn’t wave or gun or a club, he was just there.
No matter how dark the valleys, knowing I am not alone comforts me. The shepherd is with me, his rod and staff not only keep me safe, but comfort me as well. It isn’t his presence that is missing in the valley, it is my awareness of his presence.
Are you in a dark valley? Pause and allow the presence of God to wash over you. See the rod and staff in his hand, know he is close beside you.