This morning my “Write the World” journal prompted me to write Psalm 23. It is a familiar psalm, one that would likely ring a bell with even a nonbeliever, and therefore I was tempted to just go through the motions of reading and writing it. But, thanks be to God, this morning I read it differently. As with all passages of Scripture, the season you’re walking through at the moment colors the application of God’s word, and the Holy Spirit brings to light things that have previously gone unnoticed. Particularly this morning, verses 2-4 struck me.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”Psalm 23:2-4, ESV
Right now, it feels a bit like we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Death and the talk about the potential of death saturates news outlets and many of our minds. While we may not be experiencing COVID-19 firsthand, we all are feeling ripple effects. The “valley of death” for you today may be actual sickness and death, or maybe it’s the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the unknown. Maybe your “valley of death” is being jobless and feeling hopeless. Maybe it’s feeling lonely, isolated, and depressed.
But notice where God took the psalmist before mentioning the “valley of death”. He forced him to lie down in green pastures. He took him by the still waters. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely felt forced to lie down and live in stillness these last few months. And, if I’m honest, I haven’t liked it all that much.
But notice, the stillness and the being made to lie down is how God restores souls.
In order to walk through “the valley of death”, we have to be still. We have to rest. In order for our soul to be restored and focus again on the only thing that really matters, “His name’s sake”, God has to make us stop. It’s only after our soul is restored that we can confidently say what the psalmist says next, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
So, how have you seen God restoring your soul in the midst of the pandemic’s stillness? How can you continue to rest and slow down as things start moving again?