Faith in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Yea, though 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.

  • Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”  For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  • Hebrews 11:5-6

“Faith pleases God more than anything else.  The Christian life is dependent upon faith.  We stand on faith; we live on faith.  Faith is loved and honored by God more than any other single thing.  The Bible teaches that faith is the only approach that we have to God. …”

  • Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham, (July 29)

When I read this devotion, I was taken back to a dark time in my life.  I had been working on a NASA project in the northeast corner of Mississippi for three years, but with a stroke of a pen by a newly elected president, our project was cancelled, and several hundred people were now unemployed.  The severance package was minimal.  The employing contracted companies had planned for a 25 year partnership with no thought of cancellation.

In spite of that, I was in good spirits.  I knew that God had me in the palm of His hand and that something better was coming around the corner.  In true prosperity gospel fashion, I had no doubts at all.  My wife and children were scared.  They had nothing but doubts, but I stood firm in my faith that God had great things in store.

But I had a chemical engineering master’s degree, and I worked as a training development manager.  Those two things did not compute with hiring managers.  In many cases, I was overqualified.  In many cases, they felt an engineer, at least a typical one, could never learn something less technical than a refinery operation or some such.  Odd, learning new technologies and practices quickly was my milieu.  I had just learned how a bread dough kneader could make solid rocket fuel to launch the Space Shuttle.  The potential employers saw NASA.  They never saw that this guy could teach someone how to make sourdough.

I was out of work for exactly one year, and then my new job in Washington state only lasted nine months when the company that I worked for lost their contract – dirty politics, with the same president involved, but this time not directly.

Why bring this up?  I started that unemployed year full of hope.  I totally lost hope after 6-8 months of few interviews and no job offers.  I just wanted a job at that point.  But I never lost Hope.  I still knew God had me in the palm of His hand, but my grandiose thoughts of who I was in God’s plans changed drastically.  I was no longer a rising star.  I was a small fish in a small pond, trusting God for the next crumb to be cast upon the waters.

Now, with four digits in savings, I rely on God for each crumb that comes my way, and then I share it with my wife, and if our sons need help, I pull out the checkbook.

I started off my unemployed year with confidence that God had something better.  He did.  He stripped me of any thought that this world held anything for me that I might need.  Yes, my children endured the trauma and not well, my wife also.  But this is my story.  They could each tell how they survived the ordeal, and the scars that remain.  You see, these tough stories do not happen in a vacuum.  My wife, in the midst of severe medical worries and the inability to walk one hundred yards without sitting down for a rest, still laments that our three youngest grandchildren have never been to Disney World.  But that is not a need.

I walked through my valley of the shadow of death and survived.  Two years and one month later, I was hired by an engineering company, and until the company was sold nearly twenty years later, I was one of the core employees, considered necessary in rebuilding the company after each financial downturn, of which there were many.

And even then, God had something better planned.

Faith for some people is the thought that God can deliver a new job.  But Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer to ask for our daily bread, not a paycheck in order to buy a month’s worth of bread.

Do you see the difference?  Can you live by that daily faith, that hourly faith, that faith that God will allow you your next breath, each couple of seconds?  If you can, God indeed delights in that kind of faith.  It pleases Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. August 9, 2020 — 10:59 am

    This brings so many memories of my own to mind. I’ve read that prayer should be specific, but I don’t think that’s necessary. God knows our needs better than we ever will. Our faith will determine our salvation, but even our faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned over time that it’s best to be still and know that God is God and He has this. As you indicate in this post, we often get discouraged while going through our personal difficulties, but it’s all for naught.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow lots of shadows of valley and twists and turns with your job beyond your contol there. Didn’t know you use to work for NASA

    Liked by 1 person

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