Summary: God is with us!!!
“Fear No Evil”
Donald Barnhouse was the pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church when his wife died and left him with two young daughters to raise alone.
While he was driving to his wife’s funeral he realized that he needed to say something to explain what was happening to his girls, somehow put it into perspective for them—something which he was struggling to do for himself.
They stopped at a traffic light.
It was a bright day, and the sun was streaming into the car.
A truck pulled up next to them, and the shadow that came with the truck darkened the inside of the car.
It was then that he turned to his daughters and asked, “Would you rather be hit by the shadow or by the truck?”
One of them responded: “Oh, Daddy. That’s a silly question!
The shadow can’t hurt you.
I would rather be hit by the shadow than by a truck.”
It was then that he tried to explain to them that their mother had died and that it was as if she had been hit by a shadow.
He quoted the familiar words of Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
There are many ways in which death has the darkest shadow of all.
It strikes the greatest fear because it is the one valley through which we all must walk.
There are no exceptions; no exemptions.
But death is really not what these familiar words of Psalm 23 are most about.
The Hebrew word literally means “the valley of deepest darkness.”
And so, while death may be the last shadowy valley through which we pass, it’s not the only one.
Life has many other valleys.
Not too long ago, a friend of mine and I were walking across a fairly large bridge on a warm but windy day.
At the halfway point, I stopped walking and looked around.
The view from the bridge was fantastic and I wanted to soak it in, to enjoy it.
When I turned back around, I saw that my friend was still walking, and at a fairly brisk pace.
So, I called out: “Wait up!”
But my friend kept walking.
So, I started wondering if my friend was angry at me.
What had I said or done?
When I caught up, and we got to the other side, I asked my friend what was up.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked.
“No,” my friend replied, “I was just really scared being up on that bridge with the wind blowing.”
It hadn’t dawned on me that my friend would have been frightened.
We never know what is going on in someone else’s head.
We are all just people.
We all have our different fears and things that cause us to be anxious.
It’s something we all have in common.
We all experience dark valleys.
Some of us might walk through the valley of failure or the valley of broken relationships.
There is also the valley of sickness.
The valley of divorce or the valley of robbery or bankruptcy or betrayal.
There’s also the valley that is filled with shadows that is called unemployment, and another one that is labeled addiction.
There are valleys of homelessness and depression.
Lest all of this becomes just too depressing, be sure and take special note that the deep, dark valleys are never a destination for those who trust in Jesus—just a part of the way along the journey.
The words in Psalm 23 are chosen very carefully: we walk “through” the valley of the shadow of death—through it, not to it.
Remember what Jesus said in John Chapter 11?: “I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
So what is there to fear?
I’ll be the first to confess to you, though, I personally find fear an easy thing to come by.
There are some things I do poorly, and some things I do well.
But when it comes to getting scared—well, I’m very good at getting scared.
How about you?
Of course, there is healthy fear and unhealthy fear.
For instance, my dog Jack is a lovely dog but, perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Since we don’t have a fenced in yard, I walk Jack several times throughout the day, and so do Clair, Mary Ellen and, of course, Owen.
And I have come to realize that Jack has absolutely no fear of oncoming traffic.
If it were entirely up to Jack, he would stand in the middle of the road until a vehicle did, indeed, run him over.
Again, there is healthy fear.