The Darkest Valley

The Darkest Valley

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” // Psalm 23:4

Hi Everyone!

I don’t think it goes without saying how we are truly in one of the most, if not the most, difficult season our country and our world has faced in a very, very long time. I’ve been just like the rest of you these past few weeks: Glued to the news and social media feeds, left shocked and heartbroken by the things going on around us. People have lost their jobs. Small business owners have lost their dreams. Many of lost access to health insurance, and many have lost access to their own health.

COVID-19 has gone through quite the transition, at least here in America. We all kind of went from joking about it with memes, to finding the toilet paper aisles empty, to now staying inside and hearing the death toll could reach up to 240 million people in America alone. As I’ve sat and thought the past few days, so many possibilities have crossed my mind. We truly don’t know what the next few days, weeks, or months bring. We are truly in uncharted territory. And as much as I’d love to comfort us all by saying God knew this was coming and that He is in control (because both of those things are true), I think God is giving us a little more substance to anchor our souls in today–because you know as much as I do, we need an anchor for our soul now more than ever.

Today is Palm Sunday and marks the start of Holy Week. Easter is my favorite holiday, even over Christmas. The emotions of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday are days I look forward to all year. I can’t help but notice the timing of the Easter season this year, and how it collides directly with what could possibly be the worst week America has seen thus far in the amount of lives that will be lost, and the amount of cases that will be reported. It seems so interesting to me that one week in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago started off just like many of our weeks did before this whole thing happened: celebratory, joyous, excited for the future. But every day that Jerusalem moved closer to Passover, the more tense the air got, the more fuel that was added to the fire against Jesus, and finally it all accumulated in the darkest day of humankind: the day Jesus died.

The last month has felt somewhat like an elongated Holy Week. Most of us started off March pretty great. Then it got darker. And darker. And darker.

At the time I’m writing this, we have lost more than 8,000 lives in America due to the Coronavirus. And by the end of this week–by the time we are observing Good Friday–we could–and probably will–lose thousands more.

Isn’t it something that the week we will be observing the One death that paid our sins once and for all will be happening simultaneously along the world’s worst pandemic in nearly 100 years? Every day that we get closer to remembering Jesus’ death, we will be watching people die all around us. And how many people will we lose that very Friday as we reflect on Jesus’ death?

All this to say this: We are in the darkest valley right now. I’ve read Psalm 23 over and over and over again since this year started, and today I read verses 4-6 in a little bit of a different light, and I wanted to share that with you. The verses are as follows, bolded words are mine:

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

We will walk through dark valleys–that’s guaranteed, and everyone in the Bible did. David did, and as he details this in the above verses, there are some things we can take away from it. As we walk through the darkest valley right now, here’s what God is doing, and here’s what we can hold on to:

  • I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: In the darkest valley, God is with us. His Presence and His protection comfort us. In the darkest valley.
  • You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: In the darkest valley, when we are surrounded by enemies, job loss, uncertainty, fear, and even death, God provides for us. He prepares a table right in the middle of the darkest valley. He gives us what we need, and He gives it to us abundantly. Right in the middle of the darkest valley.
  • Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever: In the middle of the darkest valley, God’s goodness and love is right here with us. It’s following us. It’s comforting us. It is with us. Right here in the darkest valley. And right here in the darkest valley, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Right here in the darkest valley, we need not fear. Lean into these verses. Lean into God’s promises. Dig into God’s word. There is hope available. There is peace available. There is life available.

What happened on the worst day in history didn’t stay that way. Jesus died, but He didn’t stay dead. Sunday did come. Resurrection did come. Eternal life did come. We may be in the darkest valley now, but this won’t last forever. Because bad days never have the final say. Death never has the final says. Valleys never have the final say.

Resurrection has the final say. God has the final say. So let’s hang on. Sunday is coming.

But for those who might not make it to Easter Sunday this year, can we pray for them? The reality is so many people are questioning their own mortality in these times, and there’s never been a more opportune time to tell others about the hope and the life that Jesus freely offers to anyone who calls on His name (Romans 10:9-10). Pray for your friends and family. For healthcare workers, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. For those who’s eternities are hanging in the balance as they await the next week. God is still doing miracles. And we need salvation to flood this country. That will be my prayer this week: That the blood poured out on Calvary’s tree 2,000 years ago would flood America anew this Holy Week and Easter season. It’s not too late for anyone. Let’s do all we can to bring this message to those who need it, before it does become too late.

Thank you for being here during these trying times. If you ever need someone to talk to or pray for you, please feel free to reach out. Comments below are always welcome, as are DM’s on my socials (@stephjayewriter). Remember, we are all in this together, and I’m loving and praying for you all. Please stay home, stay safe, and be wise.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie ❤

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

A Reflection of 2018, and a peek at 2019: A New Year’s Blog

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.” // Psalm 111:7-8

Happy New Year 2019 everyone!

I feel like I say this at the beginning of every blog post, but I literally can’t believe it’s New Years. 2018 went by so, so fast! I mean, I literally remember last year at this time, thinking about 2018 and all I hoped and believed it would hold.

What’s funny about looking back at the hopes and expectations you had for something is seeing how much of it actually came to be, and what actually happened that was completely unexpected, things you could’ve never saw coming.

This year was a pretty good one for me, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve had a few rough years in the recent past, so the fact that 2018 was a good year is something I’m very grateful for.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be.

But what’s funny about 2018 is it wasn’t anything I expected to be. What I thought would happen in 2018, didn’t. What I didn’t think would happen in 2018, did. And I think that leads up to a big lesson I learned just recently (stay tuned for that blog in the next couple weeks). But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

But, the reality is none of us really knows what’s up ahead, and none of us are really that in control of what the future holds.

Sure, we can set goals and work hard to accomplish what we desire, but overall, things happen. Life happens. God moves in ways we could never even think of. And while 2018 wasn’t anything I expected, it was literally one of the best I’ve had in a while.

For example, I didn’t [ever] think I would actually rewrite a manuscript I’ve been wanting to get published for years in 2018. I couldn’t ever imagine the hope and the joy I experienced in 2018. And never did I think I’d be at the end of 2018 so full of hope and excitement for the future as I am.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either.

But, if 2018 wasn’t everything you hoped for, or maybe it even left you more disappointed and discouraged than you thought you would be, know that every moment God is in control. And if you know Jesus as your Savior, He will use every moment of hurt, pain, and disappointment to work out the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine. That’s not just hype, either. God is that kind. God is that faithful. If we just choose to trust Him and follow Him, He’ll bring us into the best plan He has for our life.

So, here we are. 2019. Every year I pray and pick a word for the upcoming year. For 2019, my word is faithful. The Lord gave me this word while I was reading Psalm 111. Verses 7-8 read, “The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.”

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

My idea of this word for the upcoming year is this:

1. That God is faithful

2. That because of God’s faithfulness, I will choose to be faithful to God

Late this year, God showed me a picture of what it looks like to believe and live as though I believe God is faithful. Faithful to provide all my needs — material, spiritual, and emotional. That He is faithful. Constant. Unchanging. And while these are all things I “know”, this year, I want to live like I believe those things. And that leads into the second part of my word. That I will choose to be faithful to God.

I think a lot of us get carried away in the things we “should be” “doing” as Christians, but that’s different than being faithful to Him. Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

Being faithful to Him is more like a relationship. Like a husband is faithful to his wife, or a wife faithful to her husband. In whatever they do, they want to honor each other, respect each other, and do things that the other would support and approve of. That’s the picture of being faithful to God.

When I speak, whatever I do, wherever I am, I want to be faithful to Him. When others see my life, I want them to see a King who is still alive and active, a King who sets the captive free, a King who erases anxiety and fear. A King who brings peace, hope, and joy. A King who is peace, hope, and joy.

Do I have hopes and dreams for 2019? Sure. But more than that, I have hope in my God. My faithful King. That whatever He desires would happen in 2019. That He would lead, open doors, shut doors, and redirect as necessary. That I would be able to look back in one year and be just as hopeful, just as excited, just as joyful heading into 2020, no matter what happens over the next 365 days. That my hope in Him would be stronger than the fear that tries to reign. Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

Because I have hope in the God who is reigning. And is doing it mightily faithfully.

I came across this Scripture that I love in Psalm 119:35-37 that I thought would be a great prayer to start off 2019 with:

Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word.

I hope you all have an awesome 2019! I can’t wait to take the journey with you. May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face shine on you and be gracious to you, and may He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

May we ever seek His face in 2019, and by doing so, someday we might just change the world ❤

Until Next Time,

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@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! Here are some other Scriptures I found relating to the theme of my word faithful for the year:

Psalm 112:6-8:

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Psalm 116:12:

“What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?”

Psalm 119:30:

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on Your laws.”

Isaiah 25:1:

“Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.”