The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me.
When we are in the valley of the shadow, when we've hit life's lows and dark places, sometimes it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We look to the left and the right, but our eyes can see nothing but desolation. What then is there for us? Are we to abandon hope?
I am reminded again of Mr. Cote's wisdom. He always told us that emotions have their place, but that place is not to lead our lives. Emotions color life, but the colors run wild when feelings draw the defining lines as well. While we were in Brazil, I remarked to Chelsea about the contrast between a child's coloring book and that of a teenager enjoying a little regression. Somewhere in the intervening years, we learn better muscular control, we adopt a sense of the oughts so that the Lisa Frank puppies who were once scribbled over in that favorite screaming magenta are now sedately shaded in tones of black, brown, and gold. There is something delightful about seeing what the child comes up with, but at the same time, I should not like to live constantly in such an inconsistent and ill-scrawled universe. A place for everything and everything in its place, as the maxim goes.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
A joyful heart makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
How do I walk in the joy of the Lord if my heart is sick and my spirit broken? Must I deny depression and sorrow? But as we learned this past year, to do so is to live in the Room of Good Intentions where we don a mask that deflects any attempt to connect deeply with one another.
Two threads intertwine. The first relates to what Mr. Cote said about emotions. They are the sea upon which we are tossed, but our anchor goes beyond the emotions to the firm sea-bed foundation of who God is and what He says concerning our lives. We may move upon the surface and experience the storm, but our trust is in a stronger place than the whimsy of the current so we can rest assured that we will weather the storm.
The second thread goes back to Psalm 23. Corey shared a small epiphany on Thursday evening at small group and it was this: we lie down in green pastures, but we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We do not rest there. We are in motion, or to quote Meet the Robinsons, we "keep moving forward." Our rest is for a better place where no darkness threatens our path. Complete despair is perhaps the moment when we give up and cease walking through the valley, coming to a rest (if such agony may be conducive to rest) in the midst of our darkest hours.
It is easy to languish into despair, but the greater joy lies in taking His hand, for He never leaves us nor forsakes us, and continuing into the new day beyond.