Doug Johnson: God will get you through the valley of the shadow

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 27, 2022

Missionary David Miner Stern was plunged into grief when God saw fit to take to Himself his little daughter.

Stern could not seem to get over his great sorrow, even though he was a Christian.

He became so depressed that he went daily to the cemetery to mourn by her grave.

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With his walking stick, he would touch the mound of earth that covered the casket.

Somehow this seemed to give him a measure of comfort, as though he still had some slight contact with her.

His grief was so oppressive that he feared he would have to give up his labors as a missionary.

However, God graciously brought him relief.

One day as he stood in the cemetery, he suddenly realized how wrong it was to fix his attention on the dead body of his little daughter.

The Holy Spirit impressed on his mind the truth in Luke 23:43, where Jesus said to the dying thief, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

He began repeating the words, “with Christ in paradise” as he walked home.

The blessed reality that his daughter was with Jesus increasingly dawned on him.

He said to himself, “What more could I ask for my loved one than this?”

In the comfort of this thought he was able to resume his duties with joy.

Instead of thinking of his daughter in the grave, he visualized her safe in Jesus’ presence.

No other passage of scripture in the Bible has brought more comfort to the grieving than the 23rd Psalm.

David wrote in Psalm 23:4, “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.” (NIV)

David was a shepherd boy who placed his trust in the Lord.

Being a shepherd was a dangerous occupation.

There was a time when he had to fight a lion in order to save his sheep.

Shortly after that, he fought a bear and killed it.

David knew what it was like to walk through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ but he wasn’t afraid because he knew the Lord was with him!

Years ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse was driving his children to the funeral of their mother.

The childrens’ hearts were filled with questions and fear.

A semi-tractor trailer crossed in front of them at an intersection, momentarily casting a shadow on the car, and Barnhouse asked his children, “Would you rather be struck by the semi or by the shadow?”

“The shadow, of course,” they replied.

“That’s what has happened to us,” Barnhouse said.

“Mother’s dying is only the shadow of death.”

I do not know why children are taken from the loving arms of their parents by death.

I do not understand why tragedy strikes our homes at the worst times.

But there is One who does and His name is Jesus.

Isaiah the prophet said that Jesus was, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

He alone understands how we feel and knows the pain that death brings.

He is the only One who can truly comfort the grieving widow, the fearful orphan and the sorrowful father.

He has conquered death and gives hope to all of those who will put their faith in Him.

The pastor of a church visited a family whose son had been killed in an automobile accident.

He heard the mother rail out at him, “Where was your God when my boy was killed?”

He quietly said, “The same place He was when His Son was killed.”

When you are faced with the painful separation that death brings, remember that Jesus has been there and He will safely guide you through the valley of the shadow of death.

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.