As you quiet yourself for this brief time, be willing to be open to God in whatever way that may take place.
Psalm 23 (NRSV)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
my whole life long.
Verse 4 of the 23rd Psalm made a big impression on me when I was a child. “Even though I walk through the valley…” or as I heard and learned it from the NKJV; “Yea, 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.”
The first time I heard those words, my father was walking through his own valley of the shadow of death. A man with a Bible, who was most likely the hospital chaplain, stood over my cancer-ridden father and prayed this psalm as I listened. My father died the next day, and I never again wanted to hear the words that chaplain had spoken.
I became very adept at tuning out that scripture throughout the remainder of my childhood and my teenage years. I was well into adulthood when it became clear to me that Psalm 23 is not a scripture about death, but rather comfort and life. No matter how dark and fearful our lives become, God is with us. God’s rod is there to keep the darkness from consuming us. The staff is there for us to lean on. The 23rd Psalm reminds us that God is the Great Comforter no matter the situation in which we find ourselves.
Lord, thank you for always being available to comfort us—not only through the good times, but also and especially through the darkest times. Amen.
Go with God.