Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

111615 valley

The world has gone haywire in the past few days. The death of a family friend last week.  The violence in the world, in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, Baghdad and others. The Facebook outcries and rants in response to said events.

A funeral on Saturday hit me harder than anticipated. Maybe it’s the closeness of the funeral to world events.

I was at the Packer game Sunday when somebody interrupted the moment of silence for Paris with some hateful words. It was shocking and disappointing to hear such disrespect uttered in that solemn moment.

And then, I came home today to find out that another dear family friend is in intensive care with pancreatitis, and her prognosis is not looking good.

The world is full of opinions, outrage, blame and rants. Many of which are showing up on Facebook and making me question my sanity and place in the world. And here I am throwing one more opinion out into the mix after reading so many.

Here’s my struggle. In weeks like this last one, I want to feel powerful.  Power feels better than frail. Control feels stronger than helplessness.

But, this is all an illusion. Death comes with little regard for my feelings on the matter. Life is frail and fleeting. To say otherwise is a lie. We all walk in the valley of the shadow of death. Some days the shadow seems more visceral than others is all. The shadow is pretty darn visceral this week. I know that this too shall pass, and in time, joy will return.

In the interim, we can choose how to respond to that shadow. Will we walk in fear? Will we let fear overcome love? Will we make security an idol? Will we choose to reduce an entire people to the label enemy because of the actions of a few? Will we give in to the seductive and toxic power of hatred? Will we be conquered by fear?

Or will we choose the example of Jesus? Even as we know that Jesus’ love and compassion led to people crucifying him. Jesus did not promise that there would never be hardship in this life, but that we would never walk it alone.

Is love truly stronger than fear? Is Jesus truly stronger than death?

I want to believe this. I’ve banked my life on this.

Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me (Psalm 23:4a).

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