Valley of the Shadow of Death

Today’s Psalm was read at my father’s funeral sixteen years ago, and I have held these beautiful words close to my heart, meditating on them whenever I feel like I am entering a valley of difficulty or a time of suffering.

My father bravely battled cancer for over a decade, never once complaining about the pain or the discomfort I have no doubt he experienced. He had learned during the many valleys of his life to trust in the Lord’s plan, following the path God laid out for him. He would quote the Psalm on his hardest days: The Lord is my shepherd. There is nothing I shall want. Another favorite saying of his was, “If you have the Lord in your corner, what else is necessary?” I have lost count of the number of times he said that God never gave more than one could handle, so if God thought Joe Green could handle cancer, then it was his job to show up and fight every day.

My father lived out his faith even though he walked through the dark valley. And we will all be called to do the same, in some way, shape, or form. So what is your dark valley? How is the Lord God calling you to trust Him? What radical act of faith through even the worst of suffering is being asked of you? Can you trust that you will want nothing when He is your Shepherd?

God called my father home to Himself on Ascension Thursday, 2001. At the time of the calling, Dad was surrounded by his wife of 36 years and his children, who prayed him into the arms of his Good Shepherd, answering a prayer he had held dear to not die alone. Whether we sit in the still waters or churn in the valley of the shadow of death, we are not alone. We are never alone.

Our Shepherd will lead us, if we can accept His voice, and obey His example. He will lead us home.

Mary Lenaburg married her first (and only) blind date going on 27 years, is a full-time liturgist, and parents one adult son navigating his path on earth and a special needs daughter safely in Heaven. You can find out more about her here.