#FEARLESS365 is a yearlong study of God’s commandment to us to live without fear. For 365 days, we will focus on one scripture and volunteers from all over the world will share their personal thoughts and what God has shared with them on the specific verse. For more info… go here.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (KJV)
Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you were following God with all your heart, but everything seemed to go wrong? You faced loss, discouragement, or failure? You were obeying God. Shouldn’t you have been given favor, affirmation, and success?
If “hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” then this situation would make your heart terminally ill. And for many, it does. When following God and everything seems to hit the fan, many get angry and run from God. They feel betrayed by the God they were following. I remember the job situation when I was most tempted to choose this perspective.
This job was one that I truly believed God had given to me. It turned out to be a year of harassment, abuse, and torment. Whenever I complained to God, He impressed on me that His grace was sufficient and that He had a plan for me. Although I was forced to do three people’s work for no extra pay, with God’s help, I successfully navigated that environment for over a year.
However, after a year of rejecting my boss’s advances, he offered me several increasingly larger severance packages. When I refused to accept them, he fired me. This injustice led to my taking a stand against the harassment and abuse. I filed federal, state and local lawsuits against the company and it’s owner.
I was just one in a long list of women who’d been abused by this boss. None of the previous victims had been able to successfully stand up against the connections, power and money represented by this particular “pillar of the community.” I wanted to run and hide, but God called me to shine light in an area of gross darkness.
The year of workplace abuse was followed by a year of darkness as I navigated a minefield of legal and emotional mess. The case hit the newspapers. My embarrassment and shame were on public display.
God showed me that the order of the verses in Psalm 23 is no accident. Verse three says “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Then verse four tells about the “valley of the shadow of death” which is on that path of righteousness.
In this “valley of the shadow of death” where my life had been threatened and my reputation trashed, I knew I was there because “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” I might feel blind in the darkness of the situation, but the shepherd could see perfectly. That’s why “I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
Rods and staffs are a shepherd’s tools to keep enemies away and to keep the sheep from straying. Even a blind sheep can be at peace that she is safe because the shepherd can keep her safe.
God put safety and direction in my life during this time through a renowned law firm that specialized in this type of case; through a new friend who’d been a victim of the same abuse who walked through this process with me because of her regret in not having stood up to the same man previously; through a new boss who gave me a job during this mess despite the risk to his company; through family and friends who prayed for me and supported me.
Though I can’t discuss the outcome of the case, I can share that God changed my life through the process. I took a public stand to stop being anyone’s victim. I influenced others to take a stand as well. For the first time, there are public warning flags that his pristine reputation is just a well-funded facade.
That valley was absolutely essential for my journey into my current ministry of helping hurting women through Bloom In The Dark, Inc. What path might God have you on that feels dark and discouraging or dangerous? Can you trust Him to keep you safe? Can you find comfort in knowing that God is never in darkness because He is the “Light of the World”?
Reread Psalm 23 with careful consideration of the order of the statements.
Are you trusting God as a sheep depends on a shepherd?
How do you want to change your perspective on your current situation?
Is God leading you to take action in a difficult area?
Father God, please help me to identify as a sheep under Your shepherding care. Help me to blindly trust You even when all around me feels dark and dangerous. Thank You for promising to guide me, provide for me, and restore me. I choose to follow You all the days of my life so I will dwell in Your house forever. Amen.