The Difficult Season
The difficult season is uncomfortable yet I am comforted. God is there.
As the shepherd moves the sheep in a new direction, things will become more difficult. There is a scene change. He takes us to the highlands, which requires us to first pass through the lowlands. As the valley walls grow higher, the valley floor seems deeper, the shadows longer, and fear threatens to allow the darkness to creep inside of me.
But even here, the Lord has something for us.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4
The Presence of Evil
In the season of delight, we enjoyed green fields and still waters. There was not an enemy in sight. But as the shepherd moves the sheep into the valley, an enemy is introduced. Evil.
Some seasons of life are wonderful. Some seasons are awful. The awful seasons remind us of the bitterness of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:16-17). It was a tree of the knowledge of good AND evil. The good we enjoy. The evil we know very well.
Evil exists. Because of Adam's choice to know it, we cannot avoid it. But when the Lord is our shepherd, he leads us through it.
How would our shepherd have us to respond to evil? We do not run from it. We walk through it.
I do not face evil. I focus on the one I follow. He leads me.
Uncomfortable but Comforted
Evil would have us fearful. But the sheep's response is remarkable. He does not fear evil. Why? It is because of what the Lord gives Him in the season of difficulty.
The Lord gives us Himself.
Is God not omnipresent and ever-present? Of course He is. So Biblically speaking, there is never a season in which it cannot be said, "you are with me." The 23rd Psalm implies God's presence in every stanza and statement.
- He makes me . . .
- He leads me . . .
- You restore my . . .
- You prepare a table . . .
- You anoint my head . . .
In every season, He is there.
But there is something about difficulty that tends to make us less aware of where He is but more aware of who He is. When the shadows grow long, and the deep valleys go dark, we fail to see Him, but we never fail to sense Him.
I am uncomfortable but comforted.
The rod and the staff are needed tools because of the nature of sheep. Sheep tend to be wayward. The rod and the staff provide the needed, disciplined touch of the shepherd.
The rod and the staff are much harder than His hand, but they are not disconnected from His heart.
He is committed to us.
He will protect us.
He will correct us.
The situation is not comfortable, but we do not lack for comfort. He is there.
Read Romans 8:18-29.
- What do we learn from this passage about suffering?
- What are God's promises to us?
- How does the Holy Spirit work in our suffering?
If you are in a difficult season take some time to view it through the lens of Romans 8:18-29. Take a few moments to journal how the Spirit has helped and how God has made you more like Jesus. If you cannot find these truths apparent in your difficulty, talk to someone who is spiritually mature. Tell them what you are going through. Make them aware of this challenge. Let them help you make some connections to the passage or some adjustments in your response.
If you are not going through a difficult season, recall one and do the same as stated above.