By Karen Kogler
Editor’s note: CTA author Karen Kogler has been caring for her elderly mother-in-law for the past seven years. Through the challenges and joys, Karen is constantly leaning on God. Her caregiving role inspired her to write a series of devotions based on Psalm 23. You can find the complete series of devotions here.
Even 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 ESV).
Psalm 23 is a popular funeral reading. The valley of the shadow of death is especially real to us as we confront the death of a loved one.
That same valley of the shadow of death is a more frequent reality for caregivers. We witness the frailties of the human body, a slow but relentless loss of sight or hearing, mobility, and balance. More frightening are the losses of memory, personality, reasoning, and self-awareness. Death seems to be gaining day by day. Worst of all, many of us also experience our own aging issues at the same time.
Jesus walked this valley, too, and he did it willingly. He “resolutely” (Luke 9:51 NLT) set out for Jerusalem and the cross, and he prayed to his father, “not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 ESV) in Gethsemane. He accepted pain and an agonizing, humiliating execution in order to remove our sins from the scales of God’s justice. Then, when he rose and left the tomb on Easter morning, he declared victory over death - his own death, our deaths, and the deaths of the ones we care for.
Today, we still walk in that valley; death is still over us and ahead of us. But it’s only a shadow. Death itself has no true power. It cannot win because Jesus wins. Jesus brings light to this dark valley. We walk in that light, knowing that one day we will leave the valley of the shadow of death and run to the heights of the mountain of never-ending joy!
Pray: Shepherd, thank you for walking close to me when the way is dark and dreary and full of death. Hold me close and comfort me until that day when you bring me safely through death’s doorway to unending life and light. Amen.
Have you served as a caregiver and then experienced the death of that loved one? Which Scripture passages were most comforting to you at that time?
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