Last Tuesday morning I opened my Facebook app and saw a post that stopped my casual stroll. It’s not the first time the cancer battle of a Facebook friend has ended in death. And sadly, it’s not even the first time I’ve learned the news by seeing a teenage daughter’s loving tribute to a mom she won’t see again this side of heaven.
I sat in stunned silence, praying for the grieving family as I absorbed the reality of their loss. Several minutes later, I saw another tribute for a young father who just passed away after a five-year cancer battle. On a morning when I planned to write a devotional on Psalm 23:4, I couldn’t avoid the reality that death is a pervasive part of life.
“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 23:4)
This verse tells us that as we endure the pain of suffering, we have nothing to fear. Through our tears and our heartbreak, we can have confidence that Christ conquered cancer, sickness, death, and loss when He rose from the grave. We can say with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
The psalmist draws comfort from these four words: “You are with me.” We have peace in the midst of suffering because God is always with us and will never abandon us. There is nowhere we can flee from His presence (Ps. 139:9-10). We belong to Him, and He promises to always be with us (Isaiah 43:1-2). Just as the fourth man appeared with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace, we never suffer alone (see Dan. 3).
Because our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, walked through death for us, we will never walk through death’s shadow alone. Because our Shepherd suffered for us, we can face suffering without fear. Because our Shepherd demonstrated His love for us on the cross, we have confidence that He will always be there to comfort us and will one day wipe away all our tears.
No matter what you face this week, God is with you in your suffering.
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