By: Gabriela Yareliz
I am coming out of a season that I can only describe as exhausting, dark and uncertain. There is still plenty of darkness to go around in the world around us and plenty of circumstances that have not yet been made clear or resolved. And yet, something feels different.
Apart from the insanity ravaging this world with politics, COVID, loved ones touched by illness and fighting the good fight to try to heal and the very real loss of life we have been touched by— I have dealt with my own difficulties and inner turmoil.
To keep it short, I have walked down a rocky, bloody hard path on the edge of a cliff I have been trying to make sure I don’t fall from. I will admit I have never understood depression fully— but perhaps what I have felt in past months is the closest thing I have experienced to it. And I want this to be an encouraging post, but I also want to acknowledge the darkness that can surround and oppress us in trials, anguish and grief. If you are there, I see you. You aren’t alone. This life can batter us and hit us, drag us and run us over. It really can. But God—
As I wrote in a previous post, while darkness is real, may we always escape it. When oppression closes in on us, may we cry out to God who, I can tell you with no doubt in my mind, is listening.
I was reading and studying Psalm 23– a very well known passage. It’s one we get a sticker for memorizing as children. One line caught my attention: “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (v.4)
It caught my attention because the first half of the verse says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”
Has anyone else felt like they have been walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Yeah.
What caught my attention about a shepherd rod and staff comforting me is this idea that scripture acknowledges our journey through darkness. (Valley of the shadow of death sounds darker than midnight— sounds like 2020 dark). The circumstances aren’t what bring us comfort or peace but the shepherd’s presence— God, Himself. His presence is what brings us comfort and peace. His promise is that even in this dark dark valley where all may very well be hitting the fan — He stands beside us. Not only that, but a staff and rod is something used to guide. He walks with us and guides us.
I hope that whomever reads this finds encouragement in it. Listen, it’s dark as hell, and we may be lacking answers, but you aren’t alone. We may be stuck in the middle of a dead situation right now, but He is with us.
Lastly, I also want to say that we have seasons of weakness and some of strength. I once saw a quote that says that not even nature blooms year-round. I have felt it in my bones that I have entered a new chapter. It feels like my eyes have adjusted to the darkness— I won’t pretend everything is perfect or resolved. I can say I see with so much clarity. “Battle ready” as the McManus family says. The inner citadel of the soul and mind, as the stoics would speak about, is armoring itself as scripture speaks about. We are fighting a battle, and what is at stake are our hearts and minds. Our sanity. The very core of who and what we will believe and trust.
After feeling like I have been drained to the core— I feel my feet firmly on the ground for the first time in a long time. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” right? (That’s my southern cheesiness for ya).
Even in the valley— I feel it. I am wide awake, and I can see.