What difficult circumstances face you today? Are you plagued by anxious and fearful thoughts, or wondering where God is when you’re hurting? Do you feel like the darkness is sometimes overwhelming?

Sometimes, when we have lingered for what seems like eternity in a difficult valley, we can lose sight of the promise of God to be with us and to guide us through it. We aren’t always sure that the outcome will be for our ultimate good, or that we have nothing to fear in the darkness.

When our four children were young, the Good Shepherd led us on a long and difficult journey through a dark valley. It was in that place, like few others in my life, that I sensed He was showing me what it meant to live in the reality of His presence. To know the strength, comfort, peace and joy that He intended for us to experience in Him.

The journey began one morning as I drove home from the doctor with a diagnosis of pneumonia. I was talking to the Lord about my husband who had not shown up at the doctor’s office as planned. Just as an ambulance passed me on our windy mountain road, I looked ahead to see the pieces of his mangled motorcycle beyond the roadblock in front of me. The officer standing in the road told me that he believed my husband would live, but that he had a lot of broken bones. In a moment, life changed for our family. The next few years were filled with hospitals, surgeries, recoveries, therapies and wondering how to hold it all together with four small children.

Those years were also filled with the reality of Jesus’ nearness, and tender presence with me. He was showing me that no matter how painful or difficult my circumstances, He was close enough to hear my exhausted, whispered cries for help.

I often look back and remember His goodness, and faithfulness throughout that time.  Intentionally recalling God’s provision of Himself in that dark journey has not only helped to strengthen me in other difficult times, it has given me joy. He continues to teach me that His nearness really is for my ultimate good. (Psalm 73:28, NASB)

How have you known His presence in the story of your life? Take time today to remember the ways that God has been with you and share with someone today. It will encourage both of you.

Verses for reflection and prayer:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

You will make known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy… Psalm 16:11 (NASB)


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