Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. . . .
— Psalm 23:4

I went hiking solo on the Appalachian Trail. Before I left for this trip, some friends asked, “Is it safe to hike alone?” Yes, thankfully, it is. You do, however, need to be careful to avoid the companionship of ticks, those tiny arachnids that can make you very sick. And even if I am the only person traveling through a wilderness area, I know I am never alone.
In Psalm 23, God promises to protect his people in the many challenging, difficult circumstances of life. Chief among the promises here is the assurance of God’s presence. God promises to walk with us through green pastures and along babbling brooks when life’s pathways are clear and smooth. God also promises to be with us through thorny stretches, and even through “the darkest valley,” where we may face “the shadow of death,” as some translations put it. Those are paths that we tremble even to think about.
What assurance does God give of his protection? He promises, “I am with you.” This means that wherever we walk, and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we are never alone. Who is our Redeemer? He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Psalm 23 doesn’t promise that our lives will be easy or even safe. But with the promise of God’s enduring presence in our lives, we can walk boldly with him as we seek to serve him wherever we are.

Lord, you have given us your presence through your Holy Spirit. Help us to trust and serve you. Amen.

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