The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Apart from God’s promise of eternal life to all who believe in His Son Jesus, there is no promise that life for us on this earth will last beyond this moment. This has certainly hit home for many in Greene County recently.
“He was so young,” is a comment I have heard over and over. And it is true whether you’re talking about a boy in his teens or a man in his 40s. We all expect and most of us want to live into our 80s, 90s or beyond, but that is not the reality for a great many of us. Life is fragile and often too short.
We can shake our fists at heaven and demand that God answer our “why?” We can allow ourselves to be swept away by anger and consumed by bitterness. But, quite honestly, this side of heaven we may never know why God allowed the death of that person we loved and respected. So, how can we go on if we never know why? How can we let go of the anger and bitterness when we just don’t understand? Perhaps a few truths can help us to find out way through the valley of the shadow of death.

First of all, we must recognize that life here on earth will not last forever. Our bodies age. Our heart grows weak. Disease and tragedy overtake us. The Bible says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures…” (Psalm 90:10). Ever since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, death has pursued us. We just never know whether he is right around the corner or far away.

Second, we must recognize that God wants us to live eternally with Him in heaven. Earth’s loss is heaven’s gain. Jesus said, “…if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2). Although it is hard to let go of those whom we love, our faith that they are going home to be with the Lord is an incredible comfort. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 reminds believers that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is what Jesus has done for us defeating the grave and opening the way for us to have life eternal.

Third, we rely on the presence of God and His promise of grace and strength to get us through the loss. King David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow death, you are with me” (verse 4). And the Lord declared to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In life’s most challenging times, when we are faced with questions that seem to have no answers, we must cling tightly to God’s hand trusting Him to see us through. We may never know the answers here on this earth, but we do know a God who sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins in order that we might be saved from our sin and have the hope of heaven living in our hearts. We know there is a God who loves us and cares for us. And we trust that this God is not capricious or unkind, but that His plan is perfect and His promises sure. Let us rest in God’s peace and pray that those who grieve may know that peace in its fullness.

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