THE VALLEY OF DEATH’S SHADOW

Read:  Ephesians 3:14-21

MY ENTRANCE INTO DEATH’S DARK SHADOW

Reflect: My relationship with my dad was challenging, but his intentional and gentle pursuit of me won me over. We became very close. I came to realize how alike we were. We laughed a lot, often at ourselves. We enjoyed the comfort of quiet companionship. He was the one I would go to when my world was falling apart. When I felt alone, he comforted me, reminded me of his unconditional love and care, even when my mistakes were big. He couldn’t fix everything, the things that broke my heart. That was okay because he was there. He was an anchor with me and for me as I struggled to figure out who I was and who I was meant to become. I was seventeen when he died violently and tragically by his own hand. This was my entrance into the Valley of Death’s Shadow.

COULD HIS LOVE REACH DOWN TO THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR?

I was immediately flung into the chaos of intense sorrow, shame, and despair. NOTHING felt secure. I felt afraid all the time. What life-shattering thing could happen next? Suddenly, everything I thought I knew about God and His love felt questionable. Could He really love me if He allowed this tragedy? Could His love reach down to the depths of despair I was in? Could it travel this long road of grief? Not only could it, but would it? Yes, it could and did. God met me there in the Valley. There, He restored my soul. It eventually became an expanse that became more navigable. More sunshine than darkness came with only fleeting shadows of sorrow and sadness. Then two years ago the journey became treacherous when my son died suddenly of natural causes.

I’VE ASKED SO MANY QUESTIONS

I was instantly swallowed by a crevasse so deep and narrow that it felt as if I was physically being crushed. It is a breath stealing, gut wrenching, heart ripping pain, more intense than I knew possible. The shadow was so black. It’s a blinding, deafening, palpable presence. This expanse is too horrific for words… I have since lived each day in this, the deepest, darkest portion of the Valley of Death’s Shadow. Once again, I have questioned everything I thought I knew and believed about God and His love. I’ve asked so many questions. I still do. Why? Oh God, WHY???????

HIS LOVE FOR ME REACHES DEEPER STILL

The Valley is the scariest, saddest, darkest place I’ve ever lived, but somehow His love for me reaches deeper still. So, although it is counterintuitive to intentionally delve further into this place, I do. I do it because that’s where God, my Father is. He’s the bedrock of my strength. This place has allowed me to experience the depth, breadth, and length of God’s love in a way I otherwise never would have. He weeps with me while he restores my soul. This is more than I could have asked for or imagined.

every tear will be wiped away

He, too, knows what it’s like for a son to die. In fact, He willingly gave Jesus so one day there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. All things will be made new and every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 21:1-8). I long for that day. Until then, I will continue to wail my psalms of broken hallelujahs and lament-filled prayers. I ask that God’s presence will remain with me in the Valley of Death’s Shadow, strengthening and rooting me securely in His love.

how high and deep is the love of christ

Apply: I invite you to look for His presence, comfort, and protection, in whatever valley you are traversing. As I pray for myself, I pray for you, as Paul did for the Ephesians: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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