This post is the third in a series of posts called, “A Six Point Battle Plan Against Fear.” Read the previous post here.
“Even when I must walk in the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; our rod and your staff reassure me.”
I love my tribe.
This tribe is a fantastic group of front row friends who do real life in real time on a level that can surprise if you are not ready for it. They are diverse, some eclectic, and wise in so many ways. These different life experiences and perspectives uniquely enrich our Sunday school class. One of the friends, Ann, was struggling with several crises in her life. Ann was raised in the Christian faith, but she had a hard time integrating what she believed with how she lived in this culture. Ann kept waiting for that feeling of faith she so often heard about from others to wash over her like waves on the beach.
To sum it up, there was no “faith-y” feeling that day. Ann was disappointed that the faith feeling didn’t just pop up when she needed it like joy or happiness. She kept saying she didn’t understand why she was struggling with this feeling.
I know why.
Faith is not a feeling; it is a deliberate action.
A decision made minute by minute and day by day to stay laser focused on your Savior and not your situation.
In Psalm 23, the Psalmist embodied this biblical principle. In this text, he said, “Even when I must walk in the darkest valley, I fear no danger for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.” Notice he didn’t say if he walks through the valley but when. There is no way we escape that dark valley in our lives. They are crucibles of our faith and an essential lesson that can only be learned by the darkest valley. David knew all about the darkest valley. He had experienced several in his lifetime. Valleys are places where battles are fought. They are places of hardship, distress, and areas of intense fear if we allow that fear to root and grow. David experienced fear, but he understood how to deal with it. He would run his fear through the lens of trust in God.
There’s another thing to notice about the valley David describes. He doesn’t say he is walking in the valley; he is walking through the valley. He is walking through because he isn’t staying; he is just passing through. David also uses the beautiful metaphor of God being his Shepherd. As a shepherd, David understood what this relationship looked like. He points out the tools of a shepherd – the rod and the staff.
The rod was made out of a thick, large branch and often had nails on the top of it for maximum protection. It was used to fight off predators, both human and animal. The rod was not a tool of oppression for the sheep but of safety, and it is a beautiful metaphor for the protection of God in our lives. The staff was also used for protection and guidance. This staff helped keep the sheep together, so they did not wander off alone and become a meal for a predator. These tools of protection gave David comfort and reassured him of God’s protection in all things.
David learned that faith is not a feeling but a deliberate action.
It is a “set one foot in front of the other when you don’t want to move.” It is that determination that you will walk by what God says and not by how things look. David knew what we know: Life is hard, battles will be fought in the valley, and God walks with us in every valley. Our God is there with provisions, protection, and perseverance.
David learned about how to walk in those dark valley’s, starting with his first battle in the Valley of Elah. He also learned how to fear no danger because God was with him, ready to protect and guide.
David did not wait to feel faith.
His faith was a deliberate action to believe God and walk with him all his days. Don’t wait to feel “faith-y,” because you won’t. Do make the intentional decision to action your faith minute by minute and hour by hour. The same Jehovah God, who was with David, is also with you.