dark vs light waves

When the Valley is Darkest

“They are facing a real battle. Let’s pray for them.”

As a community centred around prayer, these requests often passed through our hands. But this time felt different.

The family had just gone through a devastating tragedy, one I could not even begin to understand. The pain, the loss, the confusion. I grieved with them over what they must be feeling and longed to be some sort of voice of comfort.

But, God, how should I pray? I’ve never experienced anything close to what they are going through.

He nudged me gently to Psalm 23.

Really, God? Can’t you give me something a little less cliché?

But He would not let it go. I flipped to the right page and started reading.

“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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows …”


The word stuck out at me as though it had been circled with a neon green highlighter. And suddenly, my understanding of that word erupted in my face.

What even is comfort? Images come to mind of a thick fleece blanket tucking me in with a plethora of goose feather pillows at my back. Or perhaps a luxurious car, or a first class ticket on a 9-hour flight. A life of ease, where obstacles and struggles are removed, and we are free to enjoy. No debt, no loss, no broken relationships and difficult circumstances. Isn’t this what we often mean when we ask for comfort?

God knows I have been guilty of praying for such ease, asking Him to strip away all my struggles. But there is no shortcut through the shadowy valley of death. Challenges will come. Obstacles will surprise us. And the valley is often longer than we expected.

But He didn’t promise a life of comfort. He promised to be the God of comfort. The One who walks with you through the valley of the shadow of death so that you never have to be alone. He promised to be your strength, your provider, your covering, so that you can overcome every battle.

If you are experiencing that dark valley right now, I pray that you would also experience the richness of His comfort. Not removing you from the situation, but strengthening you to journey through it with Him. May you encounter His covering of love and His provision of grace every step of the way. The God of comfort is walking with you!