Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death –
Ed Willingham, the former director of the Christian Communication Council told me once that when his mother would become angry with something he said or did, she would develop a terrifying look on her face, look him in the eye and say something like this: “I walked through the valley of the shadow of death for you…” He smiled and told me he was not quite sure what his mother meant, but her expression sounded absolutely terrifying.
His mother’s words were drawn from the 23rd Psalm:
Psalm 23: 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 
The 23rd Psalm is one of the most repeated of the Psalms. I learned this Psalm as a little boy, both at home during prayers at night and in Sunday School. What does it mean to “Go through the valley of the shadow of death? I find it instructive that David, the author, does not say, “I am stuck in the valley of the shadow of death.” Rather, “I go through the valley of the Shadow of death.” He does not see his “Valley” or low point as a permanent condition. David expects to get through his trouble. I think this is the most important element of problem solving – to actually believe you can figure things out.
Sometimes in the middle of our challenges we may become overwhelmed. If you do not have enough money, life might seem overwhelming. If you are pregnant and do not know what to do next, life might seem like you are chocking. When you find yourself pumping gas and someone threatens to take the keys to your car and possibly even physically hurt you, you may feel like you are in the “Valley.” An overwhelmed person runs the risk of making poor decisions that might set them back into an even worse position than where they started.
My encouragement to you today is this: recognize when you are in a “Valley” or low spot. Pray to the Lord for guidance, protection and encouragement. Finally, put your hand in the hand of the Lord and start walking. What you will find is that Jesus Christ will lead you to the still water, will cause you to lie down in green pastures and will restore your soul. He will walk with you through the “Valley of the shadow of death” in such a way that you will fear no evil. His rod and staff will protect you and the oil from his cup will overflow and crown your head with righteousness, goodness and mercy all the days of your life.
Questions for Reflection:
- Why do you think David says, “I walk through the darkest valley” as opposed to “I dwell in the darkest valley”?
- What, “Valleys” have been in your life?
- How has the Lord helped you to “Walk through” your valleys?
Prayer: Lord, walk with me as I walk through the low places. When in danger, be thou my protection. When the way is dark, I need your light. Lead me to still water. Show me green pastures. Protect me with your rod and staff. When I am depressed and overwhelmed with the issues of the day, restore my soul. Anoint me with the oil of your blessing and may my cup continue to run over all the days of my life.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Nicholas Hood III
Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 23:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.