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 ❤

How To Respond When There’s Moral Unrest

How To Respond When There’s Moral Unrest

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” // John 17:20-23

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a minute since I’ve posted. These past couple months have been crazy. Good, but crazy! But I felt compelled to write today in regards to what’s been happening the past week in our country. I haven’t been able to go on Facebook, Twitter, or even turn on the news without hearing about the abortion debate going on. I’m not going to talk specifically about that issue today, as I don’t want to argue or start any arguments. However, I do have thoughts on how we as followers of Jesus can aid in the situation, and any other circumstances where we find ourselves morally at odds with others.

I can’t help but to think of present-day America as Israel in the Old Testament. I’m knee deep in reading the Prophetic books of the Old Testament right now, and as I read, I see America written all over the pages, and it saddens me. It saddens me to see the peace Jesus offers traded for temporary pleasures. Good boundaries- set for our benefit- encroached on because we seem to think we know better. But the Word of God is timeless. What was true when it was written is still true today. And for those who think it’s outdated, I say we’re more like the nation God was speaking to in the day of the Bible now more than ever.

The Word of God is timeless. What was true when it was written is still true today.

So what can we do in response to outrage, rebellion, and the protests going on challenging the good morals God has set in place, both now and in the future? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Love instead of hate. There are always going to be people with whom we disagree. That fact is as old as the hills. But the difference between followers of Jesus and everyone else is going to be how we love each other when we disagree (John 15:12). If we don’t love like Jesus, how are people going to know how Jesus loves them? Both unconditionally and intentionally? Let’s be committed to loving one another above the shouting and disagreement.
  2. Listen instead of argue. One thing that has been bothering me the past week is how everyone is seemingly yelling, but no one is listening. If we’re out to prove a point and are insistent we’re the ones who are right, we are doing nothing to bring other people to Jesus who already disagree with us. Instead, try listening to the other person and meet them where they’re at. Arguing – let alone over social media – will not solve our moral differences. Whenever you listen, listen in love and listen like Jesus does. He listened and then offered His wisdom in love (Mark 10:46-52). This is the only way we’re going to get people to listen and understand the truth of God’s wisdom and ways.
  3. Help instead of hurt. Instead of arguing or distancing ourselves from others we disagree with, offer a helping hand where there is disagreement. If you know someone looking at an abortion as their only option, pray for them. Offer to help them find alternative resources, letting them know abortion is definitely not their only option. Jesus didn’t just condemn us in our sin and leave us. Jesus stepped into our mess and rescued us from it. He got His hands dirty and gave up His very life to rescue and redeem us from sin, the law, and death (John 3:16, Colossians 2:13-15). Let us offer others the same.

Our world is full of examples where hearts are growing father and farther from the Truth (Romans 1:18-32). But I am convinced that if we are committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus, we can see revival. We can see healing. And we can see a turn in the tides more so than ever before. But it’s up to us. God wants to work through us. Through our prayers, through our love, and through our words. Let’s pray for one another – for those we agree with and those we don’t. Let’s love like Jesus. Let’s get into His Word and know what it says. Let’s get alone with Him and hear His voice. And let’s go out and influence this world for Him. The harvest is ripe. And I believe that when we do these things, someday we might just change the world.

“If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” // 2 Chronicles 7:14

Until Next Time,

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@stephjayewriter

P.S. If you feel compelled to leave a comment, please be respectful. This post is not intended to spark controversy or anger. Know it’s written in love and genuine desire to see the world changed for the better because of Jesus Christ.