Walking Through The Shadows — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Walking Through The Shadows — Morning Devotions

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realize there's nothin' left - Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio

By Chris WittsFriday 22 Sep 2023Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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I do like most music. I grew up listening to the great music of the 1960s. But there is one genre which doesn’t do much for me, to be honest, and that’s rap music. I’m not a big fan. I don’t quite understand it, but there’s one track that has caught my attention.

In August 1995 came the American rapper Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise, a popular rap song. From that it was Number one in the biggest selling single of 1995 and the song starts with a line from the Bible. Actually, Psalm 23:4. The singer adds his own interpretation.

“As I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my life and realise there’s nothing left.”

What was he referring to? Was it his attempt to explain the valley of the shadow of death? And what does it mean anyway to walk in this valley as we go through life’s experiences? We don’t look forward to the difficult days we know in our minds that they are going to come, but we prefer not to think about them.

The ups and the downs, the rain and the sunshine, joy and sorrow, day and night. That’s how people define life pretty well. A series of events, sometimes happy, sometimes painfully slow. Well, that’s what life is as we know it. Being prepared to face challenges is what it means to learn and grow, and the idea is to make the best out of everything that life throws.

But occasionally we will have to walk through a deep valley. Could be the loss of a job, a financial crisis or a sudden death of a loved one, and nothing prepares you for that moment. And that’s when I think of Psalm 23 can be a great help written by King David, who himself was at one stage a shepherd, he said, even though I walk through a valley like death, I won’t be afraid.

I will not fear any evil for you, my God, or with me. Now I’ve met many people at funeral services across Sydney, and in other places they’re usually sad. They’ve been sometimes distressed at their loss. We may have lost family members that we loved and cherished and We have to say goodbye at a funeral, and that’s not easy. Death is the ultimate truth in life. It could come to anyone at any time.

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Time and the sorrow it casts is always tough to handle losing loved ones. Living life without them is the most awful kind of change that we could experience. But this is a time for faith in God and his son, Jesus Christ. This matters the most. God is here to bring hope and comfort to you. And in this Old Testament book, Psalm 23 that phrase shadow of death comes from the Hebrew word ‘salmawet’.

It means the valley of the deepest darkness. Holman Hunt painted his famous The Shadow of Death in 1873. You can see it today in the Manchester City Art Gallery, and it depicts Jesus as a young man and prior to his ministry, working as a carpenter, he’s shown stretching his arms after sawing wood, and the shadow of his outstretched arms falls on a wooden spar on which carpentry tools hang and that creates a shadow of death – Predicting his crucifixion.

Jesus suffered intense agony of spirit as the Bible tells us, he faced certain death at the hands of the Romans. Darkness and shadows can be frightening. Driving at night in the country without any street lights can be a challenge, especially if you’re lost. And that’s before the GPS was invented. And what about people who have vision, difficulties and can’t see? Eric Weiner is an amazing athlete and adventurer. He kayaked all the 277 miles of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon.

He biked from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and he was the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the 25th of May 2001. And he was featured on the cover of Time magazine. But he’s blind. He can’t see. He knows what it is to walk in the dark. So Psalm 23 the shepherd illustration of David, was highly personal. He knew what it meant leading sheep through a dark ravine without any light.

The sheep could be often frightened, but the shepherd urged them on, leading them through the difficult terrain. With the risk of falling to their death. He had a rod and staff to help them as a protection. And so my point is, this morning we can walk through any darkness. If the Lord Jesus Christ, our great shepherd, is with us. There is no place so dark where God cannot reach you and lead you. We are led by the gentle shepherd.

And that’s the best way to survive the dark moments in our lives.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we take for granted that we’ve got light all around us and yet to walk through darkness is one of those experiences that nobody wants. Thank you. That you are the good shepherd Jesus who leads his flock. And you can lead me today, and I thank you in expectation. Amen.