The valley of the shadow of death. My son. One side of the valley included a leukemia diagnosis in August of 2019. We had seven near death experiences over the course of the next nineteen months. Severe nerve damage caused foot drop in both feet. There was a stem cell transplant in the middle of COVID. A relapse of leukemia in December of 2020. Then there was flesh-eating bacterium requiring emergency surgery and two additional surgeries, sixty stitches in his thigh, gall bladder surgery. The other side of the valley was his death on March 22, 2021.
This time in my life has been emotionally debilitating. A heart wrenching devastation that has altered my life forever. What do I call this season of life? A mystery? Revenge? A battle? World War III? God’s wrath? Any of these terminologies could convey my sense of tragedy, yet I refuse to choose any of these terms because of what God did instead.
God whispered to me Psalm 23:4 on February 4th 2021. “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.” Then He guided me to the verse’s true meaning. God told me that He was leading Ryan and me through the valley of the shadow of death. “Leading” implies that there is an outcome, not an end. God was leading Ryan and me through this valley of the shadow of death. That means there is another side to this valley. “But do not fear. For I am with you.” The other side of the valley wasn’t Ryan’s death on March 22nd; it’s eternal life. God led Ryan through his valley of death to his eternal home.
While I wait to be on the other side of the valley with Ryan and Jesus, I hear Mordecai’s voice saying to Esther, “Perhaps you were born for a time such as this.” Perhaps I was meant to suffer the loss of my son. Perhaps God will use me to share Ryan’s walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps others will receive the gift of eternal life because of Ryan’s suffering. What do I call this season of life? Maybe it should be called an opportunity.
Psalm 25: 4 Show me Your ways, O Lord. Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me. For You are the God Who saves me. I wait for You all day long. (NLT)