The valley of the shadow of death - Will you fight or will you die there?
"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" Psalms 23:4
Have you ever felt as though whatever you are battling is greater than you and there is no way you can see yourself out of the adverse situation?
These extreme situations, as the Reverend Khereen Wilson Bailey of the Andrew's Memorial United Church, explains are valleys of the shadow of death, that has the power to consume us to the point of no return - if we allow it.
"Every time I was impacted by something in the physical, I took off to the place in my mind that allowed me to live out those feelings. As I grew as a Christian, this did not change, except rather than (in) countries, I tried to find places in scripture that reflected my feelings and see what responses were given to those instances," Wilson Bailey said, as she sought to explain how she tried to deal with overwhelming situations.
Preaching recently at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre, Wilson Bailey said that storm, wilderness, wasteland, and hell are some of the names given to overwhelming conditions in the Bible. But in doing further research, the only thing that adequately fits what many are facing today is the 'valley of the shadow of death'.
"This place is, many times, an unplanned place. You don't know that you are there until you are there. It is a dark place, a helpless place, a place of questions, a place of sorrow; a choking, stifling place. It is a place none of us dreamed about and a place none planned to visit."
She continued: "This place threatens our well-being and our will to live: it makes us bitter, and it is a place where if we are not careful, it can bring out our worst selves because the unplanned for thing has happened."
In her sermon, she declared that the 'valley of the shadow of death' represents a real physical place. But this place of which the Psalmist speaks is not just reflective of a spiritual reality, but also a psychological and spiritual state.
"This place goes after the soul to strangle it and snuff out the very life. And someone who knew about the shadow of death was Job. He found himself in a dark place after losing everything. He said, 'I curse the day I was born'. That is how his soul felt."
Don't Underestimate the Valley
She said that one should never underestimate the valley and its effect.
"This valley can break you and turn you into someone you were not before. It can cause you to fall into despair and once you lose hope, you will be lost in that valley forever. In that valley, you run the risk of chasing death and destruction because there is something about the valley that makes death more welcoming."
But, is there anything greater than the pull of the valley? Is there anything greater than that which causes one to feel as though death is the answer?
"I am happy for the Word of God because it visits us in every place. There is no place too low or too high that the Word of God cannot reach down and grab you and lift you and carry you, while you face the things in life that you are facing. I love the Word of God!" she preached.
Minister Wilson Bailey said the valley has to be fought or death will consume the dweller.
"You have got to keep walking. Put that foot in front of the other and move and tell yourself that you need to keep walking."
Making mention of those from the people who went through their own valley of the shadow of death and overcame it, Wilson Bailey added that this victory can only come "when our minds are fixed on God and when we remain in the presence of the Almighty, because He has assured us that He is with us always; not the drugs, not the alcohol and the other substances used to fill a void that only Jesus can fill."