Have you ever been afraid of the dark? Maybe you’re still afraid of the dark—there’s no judgment in this space.

One of the most popular poems in the Bible, Psalm 23, uses the imagery of God as our shepherd and us as his sheep. God is the Good Shepherd who provides for us, protects us, and guides us to rest in green pastures and beside still waters…

But then there’s this great line: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

What a great metaphor!. The Valley of the Shadow of Death sounds like a real menacing place. It could be translated into English as “the darkest valley,” or even “the valley filled with the shadowiest of shadows.”

From what I gather, sheep aren’t big fans of dark valleys. I’m sure not! But the reality is that we will walk through dark valleys. We will experience struggle, pain, anxiety, and even despair. Some of you may be experiencing a dark valley right now.

When we’re in a dark valley, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by our fear and worry. Dark valleys are places that often feel very lonely, especially when it seems like we’re the only ones struggling through the dark, while all the other sheep seem to be enjoying sunshine, green pastures, and still waters.

But this poem doesn’t end in a dark valley. It continues to say, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”

Friends, the good news is that our God isn’t just our Good Shepherd when things are going well. Our God is our Good Shepherd who walks with us in the midst of our dark valleys. Our God is the Good Shepherd who goes looking for lost sheep even in the darkest valleys, so that he can be with us, and bring us into his comforting love, peace, and mercy.

We might be overwhelmed in dark valleys, but our God is never overwhelmed. Our God is fully God in the light, and our God is fully God in the darkness. Jesus knows what it’s like to be in a dark valley, and he’s the one who can bring his light into even the darkness corners of our life.

We might not be able to see ahead through the darkness, but our Good Shepherd can.

So when you’re in a dark valley, keep following your shepherd. And may you truly be able to say, the Lord is my shepherd, even though I walk through the darkest valleys, I am not afraid, because I know my God is with me.

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