Walking through the Darkest Valley We have been looking at five things to avoid in order to minimize stress in life, using Psalm 23 as a guide. The first four things we need to avoid are worry, running on empty, despair, and straying off the path.

The fifth thing to avoid is fear.

Psalm 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

The shepherd often had to lead his sheep through dark ravines and valleys that were so deep and narrow that the sun and light couldn’t get through. But if they stayed close to the Shepherd, they would be fine. He would eventually lead them out into the light again.

Being on the right path does not mean that we will not face danger or difficulty as we follow the Shepherd. We will travel through the valley of the shadow of death, a time of deep darkness in our lives, which includes death. Those times of darkness may also involve loss: a job loss, a financial loss, or the loss of a loved one. It may be a time of difficult health issues, missteps, sins, tragedy, or abuse.

Yet David said, “I fear no evil.” He found comfort in two things: the shepherd’s presence and the shepherd’s rod and staff which protected his sheep and kept them on the path.

How do we avoid fear? Stay close to the Shepherd. Don’t wander away from Him. Don’t lose sight of Him or put distance between you. Stay close to Him.

Psalm 23 points out five things to avoid in order to minimize stress. Avoid worry by trusting the Shepherd. Avoid running on empty by resting in the Shepherd. Avoid despair by crying out to the Shepherd. Avoid straying off the path by following the Shepherd. Avoid fear by staying close to the Shepherd.

Which of these are the hardest for you to avoid?

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