August 1, 2023
Psalm 23, 4
1 The Lord Is My Shepherd. A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
today's stamps show the “dark valleys in life” which some people must pass through. The left stamp shows how important cancer screening is. The stamp in the middle symbolically shows a child that parents are fighting over, pulling it in their respective direction. And the right stamp commemorates the deaths of those soldiers who died in the two world wars.
Cancer, broken marriages, and traumatized children, or the (violent) death of a loved one abruptly transform life`s path from light into darkness. David speaks of the "valley of the shadow of death." An impenetrable darkness settles down on both, soul and thoughts.
Referring to the question "Why?" David has no answer. He shares with the reader in a few words his experience that such dark chapters of someone’s life can also be part of a life with God. God didn´t spare David from these bitter experiences. During all times in life, people have had to go through such "dark valleys," through painful phases.
Nevertheless, David remains confident. He is not afraid of potential disaster because the good shepherd remains on his side. Even if he can no longer see the shepherd properly in the darkness, he feels "rod and staff" very close to him. This does comfort him.
I still remember a situation in my life, in which I could only pray the Lord's Prayer. I couldn´t find any more words. Then this prayer became my "rod and staff" that comforted me. In the deepest distress, the cry "Lord, help me!" can become a rod and staff to which I can cling. This is how Peter cried when he was drowning (Gospel of Matthew Ch 14:30). And so did the mother cry to Jesus, when her daughter was evil afflicted (Gospel of Matthew Ch. 15, 21 f). Both were helped by the good shepherd Jesus. Never was anyone disappointed who came to the Lord Jesus Christ within his distress.
Jesus Christ wants to penetrate all darkness with his light. He says (John's Gospel Chap. 8, 12): "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life." This light accompanies us both, in life and also in death. Someone said, "You can never fall lower than into the hands of God."
When you are in great need, please trust the Lord Jesus Christ. He hears your groans. He sees your tears. He knows your suffering. I wish that you may experience his comfort. The apostle Paul reminds us that death does not have the last word (2 Timothy 1:10): „Our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
I wish you that our Savior Jesus fills your heart with His warmth. God bless you! He may give you, his peace.
Thank you for listening to me. I cordially invite you to the next devotion with stamps on August 15 with Psalm 23, verse 5. Until then I wish you God's blessing and His preservation in spirit, soul, and body through the good shepherd Jesus.