“Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.” from the Message translation of Psalm 23: 4 & 5
I keep finding myself drawn to these verse of Psalm 23 this week. I think I’m drawn to these verses because they speak a truth to us, especially as we were reminded once again this week in Orlando (and dare I say even as we as a nation continue to argue passionately over what is the best way to reduce gun violence in our nation) that evil is alive and well in our world.
Yet, the promise of scripture is NOT that evil will magically go away, in fact, the Psalmist says that God will set up a table for us in the presence of our enemies (which, by the way, doesn’t mean that we should do nothing in the face of evil); nor is the promise that God will eliminate our walking through the valley of death or darkness (depending on your translation). Rather the promise IS that God walks with us through the valley—God stands with us in the presence of our enemies.
And for me, this is a much more comforting image than the one that often gets portrayed—that somehow following God is going to mean the removal of all things difficult or evil from my life—or that I will magically be removed from such things when they do happen—because, let’s be honest, we know that’s a lie. We have seen and experienced enough darkness and evil and death to know that it’s not going away any time soon—even though I believe with all my heart and soul and mind in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
But a God who walks with us—who stands with me, in the face of evil—who guides me through the dark times—even death itself—a God who promises to strengthen me—to help me lift my head up—who blesses me with his presence now and forever—that’s a God I can believe and trust in!