“Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
I was inspired to read the 23rd Psalm again. I’ve read it and heard it read too many times to count. It’s the go-to passage at just about every funeral. Just about anybody who has even an inkling of familiarity with the Bible knows that chapter.
Something I read struck me in a new way. The part that speaks of the rod and staff comforting me. When I think of a shepherd’s rod and staff, comfort is not the first word that comes to mind. Those are more for correction and discipline.
But maybe our greatest gifts come in those times of God’s correction and discipline. Maybe we learn the most and lean the most on God in those seasons where God allows trials and tribulations to come into our cushioned lives. Maybe the comfort is one of knowing God’s presence in the times of the dark valleys rather than counting my own victories in the sunshine.
When you go through a test, you come out with a stronger faith and a enlarged confidence in God. You go from a self-reliance to a God-reliance that is so much more secure and safe.
I read a book called A Severe Mercy in which God’s greatest blessings often come gift wrapped in the most painful of circumstances. There are lessons that we learn best in the darkest and stormiest places.
As I’ve learned and re-learned, the best place to be is not in a place where all my material needs are met and I am most at east, but rather where I am in a place where I am forced to rely on, trust in, and cling to Jesus as my only anchor of hope.
That is still a good place to be.