Nothing To Fear.
We are continuing our study of Psalm 23 this week with a focus on verse four.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalms 23:4 NASB
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken was made into a movie a few years back. I have yet to be able to read the book, but Josh and I watched the movie. The movie is the testimony of “Nik Ripken”, which isn’t is real name. Nik and his wife began their missionary ministry in Malawi of all places. They told of how warm and loving the people were and how they readily received the Gospel. However, the Lord called them away (Editor’s note: Spoiler alert….They almost died of Malaria. That will get your attention!) from Malawi and told them they needed to go to closed countries. Nik tells story after story of faithful believers around the globe who have experienced untold persecution.
One story stood out to me. A man was holding a regular bible study in his home in the former Soviet Union. The crowd kept growing until it is was so large it could no longer be kept a secret, leading the authorities to barge in, snatch this man from his family, and throw him in prison. He spent years, if I remember correctly it was nearly two decades, in prison for sharing the good news of the Gospel. Day after day they beat him telling him he could make all of it stop if he simply recanted his belief in Jesus Christ. He refused time and time again. In fact, he was bold enough to continue to sing the same song of worship over and over again everyday for decades. One day, his captors told him that they had arrested his wife and were about to begin torturing her. All day he wept while he listened to what he presumed to be the screams of his wife. Then the guards dragged a female body with a wig matching his wife’s hair past his cell. He became hysterical thinking they had murdered his wife. Stressed beyond belief he finally agreed to sign a piece of paper saying he no longer believed in Jesus Christ. However, the night before he was supposed to sign the paper, the Lord spoke to him and assured him that his wife was living and well. This man believed the Lord and boldly refused to sign the paper they brought to him the next morning. Miraculously, the authorities ended up releasing him. On the day of his release when his prison door opened, the entire block of prisoners sang that man’s song of worship to Jesus Christ. This Soviet prison house flooded with voices singing praise to the one true God because one man had chosen to believe that God was with him in the valley of the shadow of death.
I certainly can’t imagine having faith like that. The things I choose to worry about are laughable to this man! Honestly, I’m no where near the valley of the shadow of death. The valley of the shadow of death is a place where death is imminent. I have never experienced the valley of the shadow of death. I’m a mostly healthy twenty-three year-old. I have grown up in a comfortable American home in a safe neighborhood with parents who love me. I have an amazing husband who provides for me and our girls, keeps us safe, and gently leads and loves us. Death is no where near my radar, yet I still choose fear.
Even if death was imminent for me, I have no reason to fear! Let’s examine our verse in Psalm 23 to discuss why. First, death is only a “shadow”. Yes, shadows can appear large and intimidating but what power do they actually hold? None. Just like a shadow, death has no power to harm a believer. Second, death is a “valley”. Yes, valleys are deep and scary, but they are often fruitful places of abundance. As believers, we can trust that death is full of fruitful abundance. Third, it’s a “walk” in the valley. Walk implies leisure. If I was terrified, I’d be running. Thanks to my shepherd who is right beside me, I can take a stroll from life on earth into life in heaven. Fourth, believers walk “through” death. We do not get lost in death and stay there forever. We walk through to the other side right into the arms of our Savior and Lord.
Conclusion…I HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!! If death can’t hurt me, why am I scared of anything on earth! As I walk with my Shepherd, I can confidently say with David, “I fear no evil for you are with me.” As our shepherd walks with us, he uses his rod and staff to guide us and protect us. The shepherd uses these tools as gentle prods to keep us moving as well as weapons against any enemy that tries to attack us, including the enemy of fear. We can take comfort in the fact that “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
What is the takeaway for us as believers? No matter what situation we are facing, even if we are facing death, our Shepherd is by our side protecting us from the attacks of the enemy. Satan has no power in life. Death has no power in our life. Why? Because our almighty God has already defeated them. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 tells us, “‘O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have the victory because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross defeating death, hell and the grave once and for all. Since Christ has already won, we have the privilege of living as victors. We should never walk around intimidated, fearful or defeated because the God we serve has already won the battle and He is walking beside us everyday of our life.