“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 ESV
This month, I am helping my children memorize the 23rd Psalm, and, this week, we have been learning verse four.
I must say that this is a verse that I would almost rather skim over and get to the “surely goodness and mercy” part. But, I’m not going to do that. And I’m going to tell you why.
We live in a culture where a lot of parents obsess about protecting their children from any awareness of the evil in our world. I remember, back when 9-1-1 occurred, how some parents never told their children about it. I have met parents through the years who would not allow their children to pass through a room where the world news was on the television. I’ve known parents who tell their kids that they will always keep them safe…and act as that is the end of the matter.
It’s not. We live in an evil world where evil things happen.
We live in a world where the reality is that murders happen in church parking lots and kidnappers steal away precious children. We live in a world where 3,000 people die every day due to malaria. We live in a world where you have to tell your teenage driver to always remember to lock her car doors first thing when she gets in to drive.
There is a lot of good in this world, for sure.
But there is a lot of bad, too. And, try as I might, I have learned in my years of parenting that I cannot protect my children from everything that could hurt them. I cannot always be there for all of them, every day, everywhere, in every situation.
I cannot. But God can.
And I want my darling children to grow up, knowing that, even when Momma can’t be with them, God will never leave them. I will do everything in my power to keep my children safe. I will search the world over for them if they are taken; I will fight to the death to defend my boy and girls from cruelty. But where my finite humanity stops even the strength of my mother-love, God’s infinite love for my children is always with them.
And if, God forbid, they are ever in a death-valley’s shadow – whether that is in America or Africa! – I want them to remember without a moment’s hesitation that our Shepherd is there with them. I want their automatic responses to be directed to God, asking for courage and comfort and help.
So, despite what I might like to do, we are not glossing over the 23rd Psalm’s fourth verse. We are going to lean in to it, talk about it, ponder what it means.
God. Is. With. Us.
He is with me, but, even better, He is with my children.
And that comforts this momma, for sure.