The Psalms keep singing their life into me each morning. Right now, I am doing a lot of singing and clinging through them.
Living in the shadow of death is part of the human condition. A cancer diagnosis brings that into sharper focus than usual. Living with intensifying pain does too. I am suddenly far more aware of my frailty and fragility. I am also far more aware of fear.
But thanks be to God, the shadow of death is not the predominant shadow we see in the Scriptures. When we abide in Jesus, the shadow we know most intimately is the shadow of his wings.
It's not that the other shadow isn't acknowledged. That's one of the beautiful things about God's Word. It tells us the truth, all of the truth, even the hard truth about suffering. But it doesn't stop with the hard word. It goes on to the gospel goodness of God's presence with his people from first to last, through every drop of suffering and difficulty.
It is God's presence that enables us to say that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil. We are more aware of his rod and staff bringing us comfort. (Psalm 23)
It is through the tender mercies of God that the sunrise breaks upon us, shining light even as we sit in the darkness and the shadow of death. He knows we need that light to live, and so that our feet will be guided in the path of peace. (Luke 1)
And when we dwell in God's shelter, under his wings, we know protection, mercy, and grace. He covers us so that we do not have to keep our eyes on any other shadows, even the scariest ones. From Psalm 91:
|1||He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
|2||He shall say to the LORD,|
"You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
my God in whom I put my trust."
|3||He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
and from the deadly pestilence.
|4||He shall cover you with his pinions,
and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
|5||You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
|6||Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
|7||A thousand shall fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand, *
but it shall not come near you.