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

Death is an unspoken participant in all birth. In fact, it is there with us from the moment of conception, and its hour continues to get closer and its pull progressively stronger as the days of our life move along. So, that ever-present shadow just gets bigger and its darkness deeper while the sun of life gains degree by degree on its setting beyond the horizon. We all live in the presence of death’s shadow, and there is nothing that we can do to escape that fact. However, we can do something about the effects of the darkness on our minds, hearts, and souls. God has provided us with opportunity and resource for entering into those shadow lands without the fear and concern that naturally accompany that journey.

We were designed and created by God to have a form of vitality and a drive to engage with life that comes from our likeness to Him. The better I know God, the more that His constant engagement with my world is apparent. God walked through the day with my ancestors Adam and Eve, and He walks with me in intimate fellowship each and every moment of my life. This drive to live takes on the form of planning, designing, and dreaming for the future. God’s imparting of His image into us people also finds expression in our desire for relationships, and it is expressed as we enter into community with others. All of this makes the idea of a permanent end hard for us to accept. When our drive for life and for all that living involves collides with the uncertainty that death and dying bring, our natural and very human fears are brought to the surface.

It is these very fears that Satan attempts to use to break us down. He wants people to doubt the truth of God’s Word. He seeks to get us to question God’s goodness, mercy, hope, and especially His promise of eternity. We all live with the results of the damage that sin has done and is doing to the world where we live. Disease, natural disasters, and machines that fail were not a part of the creation plan. However, evil’s deception and humanity’s selfish desires were not even remotely sufficient in their attempt to derail God’s desire for eternal relationship and communion with us. Death will always be painful. There is no easy way to lose the people who are significant to us. Their absence will always leave an emptiness that is inexpressibly hard to comprehend or to fill. Yet, Christ grants us His comfort. He brings us an answer to the future that demonstrates the temporary state of our separation from those we love and care about. Christ also grants us His presence and the purpose of His will for the remainder of our journey. He is our shepherd as we travel through our own valley of deepening shadows, and it is His glory that will light the way through it and into the unending daylight of eternity.