As I stood there in the guest room, I panicked.
Even though I’d turned on both dresser lamps, I couldn’t detect any light. Usually, I could recognize at least a little light with my left eye.
I placed my hand on one of the bulbs to make sure it was working. It was warm. If the lamp was on, the problem wasn’t the light bulb.
My heart sank when it hit me. This could only mean one thing—the few fragments of retina I once had in my left eye were now gone. It’s not like there was real vision there, to begin with, but at least it wasn’t the vast blackness of nothing at all.
I had lost the majority of my sight as a teenager because of a degenerative disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Over the years, blindness had been hard, but at least I had a little bit of light perception in my left eye.
It wasn’t enough to function, but that little bit of awareness of light did give me a reprieve from total darkness. I could tell when it was daylight. And, if I got close to a lamp, I could usually know if it was on or not.
But, standing in front of the guest room dresser that day, I suddenly felt trapped in a claustrophobic cave, overwhelmed by dread and loss.
My eyes welled up with tears, and my throat tightened. I didn’t know how to put into words what I felt.
Grief. Disappointment. Fear. Loneliness.
It was as if I had stepped into a long, dark valley, and I felt a level of aloneness that I hadn’t experienced before.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been in that place, that situation, that heartache, that trial where we feel utterly alone. We may be surrounded by people or professionals or family or friends, but we still feel alone.
There is just something about those valley times in our lives that bring out our sense of isolation—like nobody can enter in with us.
But, my friend, even if you feel alone, you are not alone. God is with you in your valley.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4a).
“You are with me.” You. Me. That means God is with you, right in the hard middle of your valley—as if it is just you and your Lord. As if you are the only one the Shepherd is caring for at this very moment.
Read this: A beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness
And, sometimes it’s those valley experiences that move us from knowing about God to really knowing God.
If you read all of Psalm 23, you’ll find that something interesting happens in the verse about the valley. The first three verses of Psalm 23 use words like “He” and “His” when the Psalmist talks about his Shepherd.
But, when David steps into the valley of verse 4, he no longer uses distant words like “He” and “His.” He uses up-close words like “You” and “Your.”
“You are with me.”
God is with you too—and when your valley gets dark, He gets personal.
Let’s pause and get practical. Since He is with us, it sure would be nice to feel like it, right?
Faith isn’t a feeling, though. It’s a fact. And, God’s presence is not confirmed by how you feel either; it is confirmed by faith.
So, when you are in that valley and you feel alone, here are two ways to help you recognize His presence—right there with you. These will help you focus on the fact of His presence, rather than on your feeling of aloneness.
1. Be Still
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
I remember standing in front of that dresser for what felt like hours that day. I just stayed in that room, in that place in my heart, and got still before God.
As I did, I began to feel God with me—His comfort, His love, His empathy, His compassion. I felt less alone.
Often our response to valleys is to run fast, spin, plan or worry, and look for the nearest off-ramp. But, if you’re in a valley, be still with your Shepherd.
When we become still, we become aware of His presence. Take time, at least five minutes every day, and be still with Him. Read Scripture out loud. Yes, out loud.
Because, when you speak His Word and hear His Word it requires that you are still and focused.
This helps me be still. You can’t focus on your valley when you are focusing on quoting Scripture. Be still so you can know He is with you.
2. Sing Praise
“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 104:33)
Yep, sing. God inhabits, resides in, is present in, and is situated within your praise (Psalm 22:3).
You don’t have to be a good singer or a loud singer (especially if you aren’t a good singer). But, when you sing, your every note builds a throne and God rushes in to sit on it.
Worship is the way you draw near to God. You will sense His nearness in your valley when you call on His Name, praise Him, and be still before Him.
God is with you in your valley.
My friend, sometimes we can’t see clearly the lessons and how deeply we are loved and cared for while we are navigating the valley. Sometimes we have to get through it to understand what we got from it.
So, if you are in the dark middle of your valley, don’t try to come up with some grand lesson or insight if you don’t have one. Just rest in your Shepherd. Let Him carry you through. Take time to be still and sing.
I know you’ll get through this! Your valley won’t last forever, but God’s faithfulness to you will.
Now read this: When God doesn’t meet your expectations
This post originally appeared on JenniferRothschild.com and was republished with permission.
Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark and Me, Myself, and Lies. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits.