“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, KJV).
Like most believers, I love Psalm 23. But when I was young, the rod and staff verse didn’t make sense, because I saw them as tools of punishment and control. It took me a long time to see the rod and staff are a comfort because they’re for protection, not punishment.
The staff is a weapon against the enemy, a tool for rescuing, and a symbol of care and guidance you can rest under. The rod is a word meaning “scepter,” a symbol of royal authority. It’s also interpreted other places in the Bible as “tribe,” as in family. It means you belong here, you have authority to thrive, and you’re empowered to demonstrate the reality of his kingdom. Even in the darkest days of this trek through the valley, you’re an ambassador of his faith, hope, and love.
There are times you may not feel like it, but you’re meant to be here. Despite the hits you’ve taken, the bad choices you’ve made, and uncertainties you’ve had about yourself, you’re exactly right for this time and place. Never let any wrong that’s happened prevent you from living all God says is possible. He loves you beyond words, and beyond time. He knew you before the world began, and he’s so excited you’re finally here, at your perfect moment.
No matter how painful, frustrating, or just plain weird the journey is, never doubt Jesus is walking with you. He will never leave you, and always loves you. He will heal your heart, renew your mind, and strengthen you to live more powerfully than any media, politicians, and angry, orphan-hearted people trying to stop you along the way.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NLT).