In The Valley

What does one do when found in the valley? Not the valley known as Phoenix, or Monument Valley, Star Valley, The Big Valley or Death Valley, but rather the valley known as the valley of the shadow of death? What then? Sure, Psalm 23 comes to mind. Isn't that what everyone uses?? The 23rd Psalm. Now, while that Psalm has been a go-to in my life, typically it has been when someone has already passed away, or in the process. Why not use it while we're still alive? Why do we wait? It's not a passage just for those who find themselves on a battle field, in a hospital room, hospice facility, or one's own home, transitioning out of this world. How about the rest of us? Don't we need God, when we walk through whatever serious challenges we're facing or experiencing? Cannot those challenges and experiences also be know as valleys of death? It seems like I'm dying, when life gets so difficult it's hard to breathe.

For those who have been wondering where Ministry For The Remnant has gone, why no new posts in over TWO years, the short answer is, life.
Life has been happening - at record paces, and with that, a diagnosis of stage 4, prostate cancer for my husband, Michael, which has metastasized to his skeletal structure. Whomp. Talk about life taking a 180* turn. That moment in time changed our lives forever. Over the span of 3 days, we went from "normal life" to insanity...from a mountain top to the depths of the valley.

Back to my original question, "What does one do when found in the valley of the shadow of death?" Well, the obvious answer is, "Pray!" and pray we did (and do), but is that enough? I supposes for some people it is, but for us? No. We also made extensive changes in our lifestyle, such as food intake and the choices we make. I used to study and teach holistic health and nutrition, so this isn't a unfamiliar territory for me, but in this scenario, it absolutely felt like one. Somehow, it felt as if I was responsible for the illness AND the life of my husband. My stress and fear continued to build, my valley getting deeper.

I was trying to be the best me I could be - the human God created (and calls) me to be, but I found myself in the shadows; often times, feeling as if I'd been dropped into an alternate reality, or to the bottom of the Mariana Trench - a deep place, indeed. Mount Everest stands at approximately 29,000 feet. Commercial airliners fly at approximately 30,000 feet. The Mariana Trench is at an astonishing depth of approximately 35,876 feet - under water! There are no shadows there, only darkness. To keep on track, I thought of other people going through similar diagnosis, or worse. I considered my second cousin, Adam. He lost his battle with brain cancer, at the tender age of 35, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. How dare I complain?! Throughout their journey, they stayed courageous and faithful, shared their God stories, songs and winks, their successes and set-backs. I had such hope (and yes, faith) that Adam would be one of the lucky ones, like a nephew who is now a brain cancer survivor of 10 years, but my faith was shaken when Adam passed away on December 2, 2022 - four months after Michael's diagnosis, and 5 years, to the day, after my mom had died. Shadows. Some days, all I felt were shadows of darkness, closing in around us.

Having said that, I encourage us all to look at the word, "shadow," because it's the shadow of death to which the 23rd Psalm refers. So, is it real, or just a false expectation (or experience) appearing real? (F.E.A.R.) In our case, perhaps yours as well, that sucker seems real, and follows us around throughout the entirety of our lives, scaring us - and scarring us: apprehension, frustration, anger and doubt? All fear. Michael has said for years, "Fear is the greatest stopper of all mankind." He's right, of course, but let's face it, we're human; we're going to have fear. It can serve us, in the proper setting (as in your about to be hit by a car or eaten by a tiger), but it can also kill us. Fears lead to stress. The saying, "Stress kills" has been around for generations with valid reason. Stress sets off all kinds of imbalances within the body - not always leading to death, but it certainly can and has, for millions of people around the globe. Stress is a fear - ultimately, a fear of the unknown.

Great. We're in the valley, facing unknown unknowns. Now what? Back to prayer? Yes, but with true transparency I tell you, sometimes, prayer just doesn't cut it. Faith can tank, and when you find yourself in that valley, it can seem a solitary place to be, indeed. Is God there? Of course, there is no place you can go where God is not, and frankly, God specializes in the unknown, but ... seriously? The enemy is there as well, and LOVES to take advantage of our fears, our unknowns ... our valleys. It's always there, waiting, like the snake that it is.

Now what?!
Remember who, and what, you truly are...


Peace be with you...

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