“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

True confessions: I’m afraid of snakes. I really have no reason to be. Never been bit by one. Maybe it’s their slimy, scaly, slithery, sneaky vibe. Or maybe it’s the fact God chose Satan to appear as a serpent in the Garden of Eden. That certainly didn’t help their reputation.

The other day I got a text from my wife with a photo of a dead snake by our doorstep. She chopped its head right off. She went all “country” on it. She ain’t scared. She ain’t afraid. That’s my girl.

We all are scared of something. Maybe it’s a little deeper than spiders or dark or heights or public speaking. Is it failure? Or being misunderstood (that’s mine)? Or having your heart broken again? Not being able to provide for your family? 

Someone told me once that the root of fear is loss of control. If for a second we feel our hands slipping off the steering wheel of life, we become fearful and stressed and sometimes downright angry. We scramble and hustle and do whatever it takes to regain control. If the last couple years have taught us anything, it’s that control is an illusion.

In Psalm 23:4, God doesn’t provide us an alternate route to avoid the “valley of the shadow of death.” I wish He did, don’t you? Sickness and divorce and job loss and war and racism, you name it. And fear shows up at our doorstep and we ask, “God, is there some other way? Are you in control? Don’t you care?”

And I don’t know about you, but I prefer running, not walking through dark valleys. Just sayin. Why draw them out longer than they need to be?

But it’s in the valley where we learn to depend on God. The mountains? We’re good. Self-sufficient. Cruise control. Key word: control.

It’s in the valley where God’s presence and power can show off. When we fear, we get to experience His comfort. When we worry, we get to trust His Word. When we doubt, we get to believe in His promises. When the enemy slithers and lurks in the shadows, we have a brave God who ain’t scared. He defends us. He fights for us. He protects us.

Prayer: God, thank you for being with me in this dark valley. Help me to trust you are with me, even if I can’t see what’s in front of me. Help me to surrender control to you. Thank you for comforting me today. Amen

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