As I have been sitting these past few weeks thinking about the next verse my heart has struggled with how God would want this post to go. I know what my trips through the valley have been like. Each individual faces a different darkness in the valley. Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.
God has never seemed so close than in the valley.
As we look at the verse there are some important things to notice. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” First of all it is the Shepherds will that you walk through the valley if His path leads through it. This means that avoiding the valley will take you out of the Will of God. We need not fear the valleys, and our Shepherd is so wise that He anticipated our fear. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.“ Psalms 23:4 It is important to know that the valley contains evil. I am reminded of when Satan went to God over Job. What the Shepherd wants us to understand is that we need not to fear the evil. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 His love for us allows us to understand the Shepherd is there even if we do not see Him. Although in the valley, God may seem distant, this is a test of our faith. The same rod and staff He used to guide us in the storms on the pastures, and alongside still waters is there to comfort us. How much comfort we receive is directly connected to how well we learned the lessons of the pasture and waters.
There are some amazing blessings to be found in the valley. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.“ Psalms 23:5 The first blessing is a table set before the enemy. Understand that we are at our most relaxed and vulnerable while we are sitting at a table. Soldiers do not pack a table in their backpack. We however in the valley have a table of blessings prepared for us. It is not the Will of the Shepherd to test you, and then leave you vulnerable to the enemy. So while the enemy watches the Shepherd feeds us. That is the power of the Shepherd; He can stop the trial at any time. Notice also in this valley our heads are anointed with oil. This is done to refresh us from the trial we have experienced.
Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing.
Then we have my favorite part. Our cups are filled till running over. One of the things I have found in the valley is our cups seem to get drained. Not only of the blessings of the Shepherd, but also from the unclean things we have put into it. The valley tends to clean out my cup. Into this empty cup He fills Himself till it is overflowing. What would you rather that the Shepherd pour his blessings on top of your cup filled with yourself, or that He fills your empty cup up with Himself.
Notice here that with no valley there is no table, no oil, and no cup. The refining fire of trials makes room for all of these things. It is sad however that so many sheep enter the valley, but do not continue through it. It is the Shepherd’s will that you go all the way through the valley. Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing. They faint before the blessings. They take an event the Shepherd intended to make them stronger, and walk out of the fold.
It is true that the valley hurts. It is lonely. It is tiring. It can seem never ending. Let me say however from personal experience: the table of blessing is worth it, the refreshing oil is worth it, and the cup overflowing is worth it. God has never seemed so close than in the valley. There are a lot of things I may never do again on this Earth. I will however continue to walk on green pastures and along still waters down paths of righteousness that lead through valleys to blessings.