Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Shadow of Death

“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 staff they comfort me.”
These words from Psalm 23 have been familiar to me since childhood, and till the recent loss of my dear wife, Margaret, I have always understood them as referring more specially to the experience of believers drawing near to death. Now I see them in a new light and their truth has become a reality to my heart in a fresh way.

A Scripture which became very dear to Margaret over the last year of her life was Proverbs 4:18 “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” She was living in the consciousness of that growing light and longing for the dawning of that perfect day. As I have thought about this it struck me that when a person is walking towards the light the shadow is behind them. The shadow of death then falls on the person left behind and in bereavement that is the valley through which one must pass. It is a valley of desolating emotions as the greatness of one’s loss threatens to overwhelm, and a dauntingly lonely path stretches ahead. It is into that valley that the Shepherd comes with the comforting ministry of His rod and staff exercised through the Scriptures and through the love of family and friends. Encouraging too is the fact that the valley is not endless, though it may be long, and the Shepherd will see us “through.” And the light of dawn is before me too.