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.
To this point in the psalm, the sheep have been bragging on the Shepherd to other sheep, but now the sheep talk directly to the Shepherd. It's easy to talk about the great Shepherd we have, but how many sheep are actually talking to the Shepherd? Do you have an intimate relationship with your Shepherd? Do your eyes light up when you're with him? If not, when he takes you through dark valleys, you're going to turn on him.
Sometimes the Shepherd takes you on a quiet path to pastures and water, but sometimes he takes you on a path surrounded by terrifying fear. If somebody told you surrendering your life to Jesus would bring less pain, they lied to you. The Good Shepherd himself told you in the world you would have tribulations. But why would the Shepherd take us through valleys? He is taking us somewhere he wants us to go, but we can't get there until we go through the darkness. Sheep may not understand what the Shepherd is doing, but he is taking us to higher ground, sweeter grass, and greater satisfaction.
But notice the valley. It is a "shadow of death." Shadows can't harm! They can bring discomfort, fear, and disorientation, but they cannot hurt. Never forget…for there to be a shadow, there must be a light behind it. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1 that Jesus abolished death and brought life to light in the darkness through the gospel. The shadow of death can't harm you because the gospel is shining behind. The Good Shepherd laid his life down for the sheep. He took your death. Don't doubt in the dark what God taught you in the light. If the gospel was true in the light, it's still true in the dark. Jesus didn't abandon you at the cross, so why would he now?
This valley is not the destination; it's the avenue to the destination. The Shepherd will not keep you in the valley a second longer than necessary. Jesus had a shadow and it was beyond terrifying, but he saw the joy after the cross. Don't quit on the Shepherd or grow frustrated with him. He has been this way and he knows joy is coming.
Yes, the evil lurks in the shadows, but refuse to doubt your Shepherd's goodness and give into fear. You may not see him at times in the darkness, but you know he is there and will protect you. It's not our place to understand, but to trust.
Food for thought: Do you still trust your Shepherd even when you can't see him?