With my face buried in my tear-stained pillow, I violently—yet silently—screamed. No one in my household knew the hidden turmoil raging through my soul. My secret midnight cries exposed my weaknesses, exaggerated my mistakes, and exalted my fears. Helpless and hopeless, the thought of another day—even another moment—devastated me. In desperation, I begged God, “Take me! I can’t do this anymore! I just want You! …I just want to be with You.”
Eventually, like countless other nights, my soundless sobs drifted me to sleep. I awakened from too few hours of broken sleep to the rising sun and another arduous day. No time to think about it now… Time to get up and do it again.
Battles of all sorts usher in those sleepless, tear-full nights. Regrets, failures, lost dreams, suffering, sickness, broken relationships, a painful past, fears… They all can rob our peace and catapult us into demise. In the night’s silence, when our thoughts scream the loudest; in the depths of the valley where the circumstances seem to overtake us; in the darkness of chaos when confusion paralyzes us, the enemy’s threatening influence tempts us to surrender.
But we don’t have to lose ourselves in that struggle. We have help! We have hope! It comes from the Lord God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and earth, the Giver of life, and the One who loves us lavishly! He is the good Shepherd who watches continuously over us. Psalm 23:1-3 (NASB) says:
The Lord is my shepherd,
I will not be in need. He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.
King David, having served as a shepherd, completely understood the responsibilities, care, and support a shepherd provides for his sheep. A shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He leads, guards, protects, and provides for all they need. David knew God as his Shepherd—the One who leads, guards, protects, and provides for him.
Verse 4 (NASB) reads:
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.
Regardless of the dire circumstances David faced, he trusted in his constant companion: the Lord, his Shepherd. He found resilience and courage in His presence. He experienced comfort and compassion in His care.
The rod was not an instrument of correction, but one of protection. With the rod, a shepherd fought off predators and accounted for the sheep in his care. Leviticus 27:32 shows us that the sheep were counted as they passed under the rod. The staff was used to both guide and rescue the sheep. The crooked end of the staff served as a tool to wrap around the neck or body of a sheep trapped in thick brush or fallen in a ravine.
The shepherd, with his rod and staff, remained with the sheep and watched over them at all times. No matter where they were—high or low, night or day—the shepherd was present to guide them, protect them, provide for them, and rescue them. Just as with David, the Lord is your good Shepherd. Jesus, Himself, says so, as recorded in John 10:11.
You may feel helpless in your circumstances. Hopeless in your situation. Exhausted from the demands. You may not know how to get through this new day. But the Lord, your Shepherd, does. He restores you. revives you. and guides you in the right ways He has purposed for you to go. He is ever-mindful of you and watching over you—to guard you, protect you, rescue you, and defend you from the dangers in the world and the attacks of the enemy.
No matter where you are and what you’re facing, God is with you. Do not allow fear to overtake you. You are not alone. Receive your Shepherd’s unfailing love, merciful compassion, and constant care. His rod and His staff are still instruments in His hands for you, and He will escort you to a place of peace, rest, and provision for His name’s sake.
Holding Fast to Hope,
For Reflection: It is important to secure ourselves in the truths of scripture and the character of God BEFORE we hit a valley experience. What do you do to strengthen your faith? How often do you practice this? Schedule your week and block off time to strengthen your faith daily. Be sure to journal your prayer, revelation, thoughts, and feelings from these times of pursuing the Lord, your Shepherd who is always with you and always watching over you.