On this beautiful February morning in 2005, my son and I had gone to the park to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. There couldn’t have been a more beautiful day, if we had orchestrated it ourselves. The birds sang, children laughed and played, and the wind blew gently around us. Still reveling in sunshine and fresh air, we arrived home to this.
My hand shook as I dialed numbers and listened to the answering machine at the same time. Cryptic messages from voices deliberately calm asked me to return their call. When I got hold of my younger sister, she delivered the news I’d dreaded receiving for the last twenty years. My older sister Michelle had taken her life.
Michelle had battled mental illness all of her adult life with varying diagnoses. The labels which seemed to stick were schizophrenia and major depression. She had survived many suicide attempts but not this day.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Words can’t describe the valley I walked through during Michelle’s funeral and for months afterwards. The only thing that got me through was God’s hand directing me. Though the rod and shepherd’s staff represent power, they also symbolize comfort and guidance. The most important word in Ps. 23:4 is “through,” because with God’s help, I got through the valley.
I can testify to the fact that God’s comfort guided me through this very dark period in my life.
Life is never the same after tragedy, but growth comes from it. Warm, sunny days in February bring back dark feelings, but the empathy God instilled in me for those suffering grew after my sister’s death. Because of trials, we are able to relate to others on a deeper level.
What valley are you walking in today? God’s hand comforts even through the darkest of times.
“A Word of Encouragement.”
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Thankful for the comfort of God!