The Truth About Shadows
by Rick Warren
“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.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
One of the common sources of stress is loss. You can lose your job, your health, your money, your reputation, or a loved one.
When people go through loss, there are always two common reactions. One is fear, and the other is grief. Grief is good. Grief is the way we get through the transitions of life. In fact, if you don’t grieve, you get stuck! Grief will not kill you if you let it out.
On the other hand, fear is a bad thing. Not once in the Bible does it say, “Grieve not,” “Sorrow not,” “Weep not,” or “Cry not.” What it does say is “Fear not.” And it says that 365 times! Because grief doesn’t paralyze; fear does.
David says in 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” (ESV).
Shepherds always carried a rod and a staff to protect their sheep. David knew that, in the same way, God has the tools to protect him, and he trusted him, even in the darkest valleys.
Some of you are going through the valley of the shadow right now — maybe the valley of the shadow of death. It may be the valley of the shadow of debt. It may be the valley of the shadow of conflict. It may be the valley of the shadow of depression. It may be the valley of the shadow of discouragement.
Shadows are scary. Remember how you used to be afraid of shadows when you were lying in bed as a kid? I’ve learned a few things about shadows.
First, shadows can’t hurt you.
Second, shadows are always bigger than the source.
And — here’s the good news — wherever there’s a shadow, there has to be a light. You can’t have a shadow without light. So the key when you’re going through the valley of the shadow is to turn your back on the shadow and look at the light. Because as long as you keep your eyes on the light — Jesus, the light of the world — the shadow won’t scare you.
That’s how you go through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s how you lower your stress. You trust God in the dark valleys, just like David, who prayed, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” (Psalm 142:3a TEV).
Talk It Over
- What are the shadows you’ve recently been facing? Why are they so daunting to you?
- How can memorizing Scripture help you face the fears in your life?
- Why do you think fear stresses people out?