Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me....." -Psalm 23:4
Psalm 23 is a very familiar passage in the Bible to most, with "The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want," being the most common scripture out of the entire chapter. Yet out of all the times I've read this passage and have come to learn it by heart, I went back and read it again and it gave me a completely new understanding. I also want to make note that I went back and read this in 4 different translations: New King James, New Living, Amplified and The Message. I didn't do this to be deep lol, but rather each version words the same scripture in a different way. If you have a Bible that offers multiple translations, or if you have a Bible app on your phone I strongly encourage you to look up scriptures in different translations to help give you a better understanding of the Word. In this particular scripture, "The Message" translation pulled at my heart in a different way than any of the others.
"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when You walk at my side." -Psalm 23:4 (MSG)
These subtle, yet confirming words completely changed my perspective on this scripture. Recently, I had been going back and forth in my mind on a number of different things that have been occurring in my life. I was beating myself up on certain decisions I made and opportunities I chose not to take because after praying on it, I felt that wasn't the direction God was taking me in. However, after making these decisions, it seemed like things were getting worse. Which led me into a terrible state of confusion and frustration. I kept thinking, "but God, if this is what you wanted me to do...why do I feel like I'm being punished? Why do I feel like I made a mistake....or I made the wrong turn?" I just couldn't understand why I would be experiencing so much turbulence even after seeking Him and making these decisions after prayer. But then I read this scripture, in that particular translation, "even when the way." Those four words tell me that just because I'm experiencing some challenges and some set backs, it doesn't mean that it's not still God.
"We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word."
When I see those words it tells me that sometimes "the way" is going to take me into some dark valleys. Sometimes "the way" is going to take me on what seems more like dirt roads than defined pavements, but just because I'm in those dark places doesn't mean I'm still not on the right path and in the will of God. Sometimes those "dark valleys" are exactly where God wants us to be....why? Because if we go on to read further in verse 4 David says, "I'm not afraid when you walk by my side." To me everything circles back to dependence on God. We must learn to become completely reliant on God and His word. The Bible can't just be a fuzzy bedtime story, but it has to be the reference point of every single move that we make.
"It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are."
As Christians, we focus so much on triumph and victory (which is definitely the outcome) but we sometimes fail to mention there's a middle step required in between to get there. We can't be overcomers without anything to overcome. I truly thank God for His word and how it confirms so many things in my life. I haven't made a wrong turn, I haven't strayed off the path. I'm just walking in an area that requires me to hold His hand a little tighter and to draw in a little closer because He can see things in darkness I could never see in broad daylight. It's not by coincidence, it's not by happenstance, but it's by design that you are where you are. I was recently reminded by a friend that Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," which simply means that we don't know!!! God is the one in control and He's the one ordering our steps and He knows the way. Even if that way happens to go through the darkest, lowest, loneliest times of our life, it's worth being there because it's nothing like walking with Jesus. It may not look good, and Lord knows it doesn't feel good, but be confident in knowing that it's all for your good. Take assurance in knowing that He purposely brought you to this "valley" so He could purposefully bring you out. This dark place is just another opportunity to experience Christ in a closer way.
*For more on this topic, check out the following scriptures: