The Shadow of Death
By Youval Yanay
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23
Amidst recent challenges, including health issues, strained relationships, and doubts about my purpose in life, negative thoughts begin to take hold. These thoughts cause me to question if I am fulfilling the will of God or producing eternal fruit, and often lead to moments of sadness, fear, and hopelessness.
Every time I decide to follow God’s will in my life, challenges inevitably arise. Doubts about our capabilities and self-worth arise, and it’s easy to shift blame onto external factors, numbing ourselves to avoid responsibility. Succumbing to these lies leads to despair and distancing from God’s purpose, aligning with the enemy’s plans to breed hopelessness and unbelief.
To combat negative thoughts, we’re called to harness the power of God’s Word. The living Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword piercing the division of the soul and spirit. By relying on God’s truth over fleeting emotions, we can confront and surrender these thoughts. While simple in concept, it requires self-discipline to consistently fill our minds with God’s promises, anchoring ourselves in His steadfast truth.
The Word of God is our foundation and the solution for every situation. Rejecting lies and embracing God’s truth prevents these negative thoughts from gaining a foothold. However, the enemy may attempt to distort our perception of God, leading us to believe He’s responsible for our disappointments. We must remember that only God’s Word remains constant while our feelings and thoughts always change.
Trust in God’s wisdom, rather than relying solely on human understanding, empowers us to navigate uncertainty. Clinging to faith even in the face of challenges bolsters our connection to God and His promises. This unwavering faith transforms the darkest valleys into opportunities for growth and spiritual closeness.
In times of trial, we’re reminded of our ultimate purpose: to be conformed to the likeness of Yeshua. This process involves shedding false identities and attachments, allowing God to mold us into His image. Though this journey is arduous and may trigger fear, it’s essential to release these old securities, trusting in God’s transformative power.
Central to this transformation is fixing our eyes on Jesus. This doesn’t entail merely looking at representations of Him, but embodying His teachings, even amid confusion and difficulty. By leaning on His unchanging goodness and control, we find strength and refuge. This practice guides us from glory to glory, transforming us into true reflections of Christ within the world.
Adversity isn’t without purpose; we’re assured that all things work together for good for those who love God. This purpose extends beyond temporary hardships, as we’re destined to be conformed to the image of Jesus. This process is integral to our identity as children of God, a divine calling that propels us towards transformation.
The journey of transformation is often challenging, requiring us to let go of comforts and embrace our true identity. Through struggles, faith remains our anchor, enabling us to emerge transformed, reflecting Christ’s image more vividly. This process, known as sanctification, shapes us into resilient and faithful followers of Christ.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus means wholeheartedly trusting His goodness, even during times of uncertainty. This practice permeates our lives with His promises, guiding us from darkness into light. This journey isn’t solitary; God has blessed us with a community of fellow believers who provide support, guidance, and strength in times of need.
Ultimately, our joy and purpose stem from this transformative journey, as we continually become more like Yeshua. This process infuses our lives with meaning and purpose, bringing us closer to God’s intended likeness. As we experience difficulties, we’re reminded that our trials serve a greater purpose, molding us into children of God who reflect His image.
In the end, our lives are a testament to God’s enduring love and transformative power. As we navigate challenges, doubts, and negative thoughts, we’re called to lean on His unwavering truth, allowing it to reshape us and guide us through the valleys. This journey of faith and transformation is our response to the call of becoming true children of God, destined to reflect His image with grace upon grace.
O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. – Psalm 59:17