David talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Death does cast a shadow. Death is everything that is not the life we have in God. All that God is and gives brings life to our soul and rejuvenates our body and spirit. Death casts a shadow over these things making them hard to see. Shadows of trouble, heartache, despair, and isolation make it hard to see the assurance, security, support the Lord gives. These shadows create fear and anxiety for what will be. These shadows have great power. Here is our Verse of the Day:
25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.
Our anxiety is born in the blindness of Death’s shadow.
Things feel dark and ominous. There is no light, no hope, no help it seems. Jesus understands this very well. The Bible says that He was fully aware the time had come for Him to be arrested, scourged, and crucified. Many would die from the scourging. Scripture says Jesus was no longer recognizable as human after the scourging. The instrument used was designed to rip the flesh. Then, He would be crucified. In the process, the cross would be on the ground and Jesus would have lay down upon it. There they would nail his hands and feet into the wood. Then the cross would be lifted. The bottom of the cross would have lay over a deep hole so as they lifted the cross, the bottom would have fell into the hole jarring the body on the nails. But it was not the nails that would kill the person. Here is an excerpt from the International Bible Encyclopedia that describes the pain. Eventual death came from the lungs filling with blood, a drowning while hanging by nails.
The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, esp. in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with an insignificant bleeding of the jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever, which was aggravated by the exposure to the heat of the sun, the strained position of the body and insufferable thirst. The wounds swelled about the rough nails and torn and lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued. The mind was confused and filled with anxiety and dread foreboding. The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths. Tetanus not rarely supervened and the rigors of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain, till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew exactly what was to come and He suffered with anxiety. The Bible says that He asked God if there was any other way to accomplish the will of the Father, but then said those glorious words, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus told His disciples that He was overwhelmed and sorrowful unto death (Mark 14:34). The pressure within Him was so great that His capillaries burst causing blood to pour out of the sweat glands. This was extreme anxiety and sorrow He was experiencing not to mention the spiritual torture of demons that no one could see. The sky turned dark in the middle of the day.
Jesus fully understands our struggle with anxiety…
I say this only to remind you that we have a God who fully understands anxiety, fear, and being overwhelmed. He experienced it to a greater degree than any human being ever could. He understands what it feels like to be alone in the darkness.
The most important part of this is why was this the way the Father chose to die for humanity. He was the lamb of God as John the Baptist called Him, but the lambs of the Old Testament did not suffer like this. They were slaughtered and died instantly. Why the great suffering?
First, He chose to suffer to this extreme so that we would be comforted as we pray that God knows how heavy our hearts become with fear and anxiety. We can have confidence that He does not scoff at our prayers, but He responds with great understanding.
Secondly, He was to put upon Himself the fullest measure of punishment for sin. He had to experience to the absolute extreme all of the consequences of sin and death. The Bible says the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). Death is a resolute separation from the presence of God. Without God, we are helpless to defend ourselves against the powers of darkness that fill us with passions of the flesh, the expectation of darkness, and fear of heartache. Jesus had to suffer it all at full strength. This is why we hear the strangest words coming from His mouth, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). He was quoting David in a time of trouble, but it reveals the loneliness He felt, even separation from God, the Father.
He took upon Himself all that sin and death had to offer on our behalf.
We have sinned and deserve what He got, but He never sinned so that He could take upon Himself the sorrow and anxiety that should have been ours.
Faith in Christ means total forgiveness of sin and complete freedom from the effects of sin. This is why God describes the devil’s work as shadows. Shadows make everything look darker, but for the believer absolved of all consequences of sin, the most the devil can do is create shadows. And shadows have no substance.
On his own, the devil can only create shadows that produce shadows around us and anxiety within us. But we have the truth that says no matter how things look, God is going to use it for our good. We do not have to worry about the future when we are living in Christ. Even the worst things that happen to us, God will use for good. I talk about this in more depth in my first book Prepare for Greater Things. Even when Abraham lied, God used it to add blessings. This is our hope. God never leaves us in the shadows. We may go through them, but He always brings us back to the Light.
If you are filled with anxiety and sorrow, turn your eyes toward the promises of God.
He is making all things new (Isaiah 43:18-19). Don’t let fear win. It has no power over you because Jesus defeated it on the cross. It only has power if you give it power. Focus your eyes on the God who turns all the devil’s work against us into blessings for our future.
Whatever shadows you face, remember Christ died so that you will only face shadows. The devil will create circumstances and issues that cause everything to look so dark, but He has been defeated. He can’t accomplish what He desires. His weapons will never accomplish their goal in your heart (Isaiah 54:17). If you are suffering, it is for a time to prepare your heart for greater things. Hold on to the promise. Wait upon the Lord. You will be delivered.
I pray for all of you that God would help you turn your eyes to His promise and His plan that you might be filled with hope again. And I hope you will share this with anyone you know walking through the shadows. Leave me a comment and let me know how God has pulled you through the shadows of darkness. Or if you are in the shadows, leave me a prayer request in the comment area. I would love to pray specifically for you.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!
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Pastor Lee is a pastor and Biblical life coach. He has been helping people through counseling, pastoring, teaching, and preaching for 20+ years. His ministry focuses on helping people overcome the strongholds of the past and press on into God’s plan for an abundant life. He has been married to his wife, Amy for 28 years. He has three sons and one daughter-in-love. For more about Pastor Lee or to get some Biblical advice, go to the About page.
Christie AguilarNovember 8, 2019 at 8:54 pm
Such a powerful and encouraging message at the exact moment it was needed. Thank you Pastor Lee!
Pastor LeeNovember 11, 2019 at 3:48 pm
Thank you Christie. Anxiety and fear can be so difficult. I am teaching on this right now. It will be on the podcast soon if not already. The first message is called The Devil’s Lie. May the Lord grant you grace and peace abundantly.