Finding Strength “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” (Psalm 23:4). A favorite hymn for many Christians proclaims, “Walking in sunlight, all of my journey; over the mountains, through the deep vale….” But, another old Christian standard declares, “You gotta walk that lonesome valley….” In Psalm 23 David seems to connect the two ideas. There are valleys and shadows for the Christian, but God’s presence makes the way bearable and the destination sure. The strength of God is available for where the believer walks. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians declaring that believers live “in the heavenlies” (1:3). To the Philippians he said, “For our [walk] is in heaven….” It’s true. Christians do live in God’s presence. No doubt. Walking in sunlight! However, Christians also live “on earth” – with all that implies. There are days of weariness and grime and pain and struggle and danger. The ravines in our lives may leave permanent creases in our foreheads. “You gotta walk that lonesome valley.” The strength of God is available for what the believer fears. David proclaimed that he would fear “no evil.” What are you afraid of? The evening news? War and crime and disease and disaster and meanness? We are afraid of evil and we live in a world that makes that fear more than paranoia. But Jesus himself responds in chorus with the Psalmist. While the world can be a scary place, Christ has overcome the world and promises his abiding presence with us. To live and walk in such light requires a heavenly perspective on earth. David had faced the lion’s roar and the giant’s threats, but still he declared, “No fear!” The strength of God is available for where we live and for whatever we face. The strength of God is, in fact, why the believer possesses confidence at all. We have the “presence” of God – “Thou art with me.” We have the “provisions” of God – “thy rod” and “thy staff.” The shepherd’s rod was a heavy wooden stick about two to three feet long used to ward-off animals and other threats. The shepherd’s staff was about eight feet long and used to rescue wandering sheep and to guide and direct them. God is our Rescuer, our Redeemer, our Protector and Guide. Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.