Through The Valley

This morning, I remembered an old elementary song we used to sing in gym class. It was called ‘Going on a Bear Hunt,’ and it went like this:

We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re on our way.
We’re going to find a lost one.
We’ll find him today.
Uh-oh, grass!
Long, wavy grass.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it.
Swish-Swish
Swish-Swish
Swish-Swish
Swish-Swish
We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re on our way.
We’re going to find a lost one.
We’ll find him today.
Uh-oh, a river!
A deep, cold river.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
We’ve got to go through it.
Oh, how the grieving look for a way to escape the flames and the hurt, to avoid the agony of loss; a pass through without any pain; a shortcut, or a way around it. Jesus asked for there to be another way; for a pass.  But, there was no other way and the cup could not be passed. There was only one way, and He was it.  Similarly, there is only one way for the griever, and it is through. There are no shortcuts provided, no magic doors to pass through. Grieving is a harsh road and it comes with an abundance of uncertainty. There are sure to be dead ends, one ways, and broken roads. It is dark and it gets lonely, for many are afraid to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. However, there may be a few who are brave enough to walk alongside. 
In this moment, I think about Jesus’ traveling partners through death valley. Of course, He had his mother, Mary. She had to walk the road of despair, as she watched her son be beaten and crucified. And then there were John and Mary. Unlike Jesus’ mother, John and Mary had a choice: walk alongside Jesus and His mother, or walk away. And, they chose to be right there by her side the entire time; to be right there at Jesus’ feet, while other disciples and friends scattered. When Jesus felt alone and forsaken by God, he had those three to turn to. This ministers to me now more than ever, and it makes me ask myself where I would have been. Would I have been an onlooker? Or, would I have been at the feet of my Savior? 
Death is uncomfortable and unpredictable. There will be many detours and obstacles to face on this journey, but I do take some comfort in knowing that God has gone before me, just as He had for Jesus.

“The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
These words bring me relief. Of course, it doesn’t make the action of walking it out any easier, but it does provide a peace that I can’t access anywhere else. To know that God is walking ahead of me, enables me to go down this winding road that appeals to no one. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s my reality. And, if I want to come out of this, I have to go through it. ‘I can’t go over it, can’t go under it, I’ve got to go through it.’ 
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 

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