Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Last night I sat with a patient in the hospital fully believing that he would die before the night was over. He didn't, and it was an interesting night as I watched him rally back from total unresponsiveness to the point of complaining that they were too slow about getting things done - and he was hungry.

At one point between those extremes he asked for his Bible. It had not been sent with him to the hospital, but the respiratory therapist that helped him last night found one in his office and brought it to him. He clutched it like a drowning man grabbing a life preserver. Not a bad analogy, would you agree?

I asked what his favorite passage was and if he wanted me to read to him. At first he just wanted to hold it, and for a long time it just sat in his lap where he would occasionally run his hand over the cover just to make sure it was there. A little later he started looking for a passage but couldn't find it. I asked to help and took the Bible from him as he started to quote the scripture he was seeking...

"The Lord is my water..."

I opened to the 23rd Psalm and leaned close as I read it to him.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even thought I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  (NIV)

As I read "he makes me lie down in green pastures...he restores my soul" my patient became still for the first time all night and drifted off to sleep. Right there in the valley of the shadow of death. All of the struggle to breathe and to tear bandages off of injuries, the restlessness and agitation just stopped and he rested for a while in those green pastures beside that quiet water. A quiet faith in the middle of a storm. 

As I sat quietly by his bed watching him sleep I thanked God for the peace of his word and his presence. Not because anyone in that room deserved it, but because we both needed it so desperately right then. 

Whatever is going on in your life right now remember that you are always held in the strong and mighty hand of God. Let him lead you to those green pastures and that quiet water for a rest. You can resume the fight in a little while once you've spent a few minutes with the Shepherd who brings you peace, comfort and security every day of your life. 

Allow God's word to speak to you, comfort and strengthen you today. No one can do it better. 

I am praying for you. 


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