Saturday 19 September 2020
Trusting Jesus in shadowy times
By Wong King Wai (黄经为)
Psalm 23: 4 “Even 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.”
In this popular Psalm we are introduced to Jesus our shepherd who guides us through life. We, his children, are likened to sheep. If you have done any research on sheep, you will know they are not very bright. For example, if a sheep somehow rolls onto their back, they are not able to turn themselves back upright and if no one helps them, they will die.
Of course, no one purposely tries to do something that would kill themselves or put themselves in a difficult situation. However, sometimes a wrong choice is made and suddenly fear, doubts and uncertainty engulf them. During these times, it can feel like the very life breath of God has been taken away and the pressure is coming on all sides. It might even feel like they are dying. Ever felt that way yourself?
In verse 4 of the twenty-third Psalm, it highlights a very important thing: Jesus never leaves you on our own. I know you have heard that said many times, but do you truly believe that? And what is more amazing is that even through tough and dark times, Jesus, using his rod and staff, is there to guide you through the shadows; through the moments you can’t see more than a few feet ahead of you.
His rod and staff, which you might think is to strike at you and prod you mercilessly is actually a great comfort. How I came to see this is during a holiday where I had to climb up to the Tiger Nest Monastery in Bhutan.
It is a five hour hike all in all and I had to climb two mountains to reach the monastery. Before the climb, I was given a branch of a tree to use as a walking stick. The path up the mountains are along the sides of the mountain. I shudder to think what would happen if anyone would fall over.
As I started to trek, I was greatly comforted to have the branch with me because as I ascended I could use it to help push me up a step and it also provided me stability when I was descending the mountain. It was after a particularly challenging patch of descending a mountain and taking a rest break that Psalm 23:4 came to mind and I knew now what Jesus’ rod and staff was all about.
Jesus is our help in all circumstances. He loves you and me so much that he will give us his shoulder to lean on and be that staff of support and help when we walk into dark places in our lives – which could be financial, relational, emotional, physical or psychological dark pits or situations. It may not be intentional that we walk down these paths but as the verse implies, it is a personal choice to go down those paths. We as sheep, who aren’t the smartest animals around, sometimes make a wrong turn and end up in the valley of the shadow of death.
Thankfully it is only shadow and the best way to get rid of shadow is to shine a light. Jesus is our light and he is our shepherd. May we realise that we are his precious children and that he will never leave us in a lurch even though we behave like sheep and go our own way at times. Let us rejoice and be glad that we are led by a loving, gracious and even present Lord and Saviour!
PRAYER: I thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins and for taking me as I am, warts and all. Thank you for never leaving me, forsaking me or abandoning me even when I make silly decisions that cause me to get really depressed and afraid that I feel like dying. Help me to trust your heart that you are guiding me through these challenging times because I don’t trust myself to get me out of this mess that I am in. Show me the way and guide me to where I should be so I can glorify your name and be a better disciple of Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN.
诗篇23: 4 我虽然行过死荫的幽谷，也不怕遭害，因为你与我同在，你的杖、你的竿都安慰我。