Article: PRESENCE OF GOD IN THE VALLEY OF SHADOW OF DEATH! | Sujith Sunny, Dehradun

Praise the Lord.
I have been sitting all alone in this graveyard for some time now. One uncle, whom I know very well, had died yesterday because of Covid. This grave was dug for his burial. I came here this morning to guide the labourers who came to dig this grave. They finished their work and went back to their homes. Now I am waiting all alone in this huge graveyard. I was just looking around and watching these graves. I could see graves of many great people here. This is a Christian Cemetery. Therefore, I could see the names of many missionaries and great men of God, engraved in these tombstones. Hundreds of so-called ‘blessed’ funeral services were conducted here. Hundreds and thousands have gathered here to say good bye to those great men and women of God. But today, in this funeral, the maximum number of attendees is going to be less than ten. It is not because this Uncle was not a famous person. He indeed was a great man. He had been heading an institution for the past 36 years. In our opinion, the number of participants for such a person’s funeral should not be just 10. But in today’s situation, there is nobody to bury the dead in most of the cases around us. We are seeing dead bodies being thrown away or being burned down all around.

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Today, only a few people are going to attend this funeral. I have been listening to some people saying that this is not the kind of a funeral this Uncle deserves. I just thought about it for a while and I just wanted to share with you one or two thoughts that came to my mind. Is there really a need that a person need to be honoured at his funeral? Or is it the number of attendees and the profoundness of the eulogies that determine the blessedness of the occasion? If that is so, what about this uncle? Not just that. What about you and I who might die during this Corona season? Is it a curse to have such a funeral? I know that many are thinking in this line and that’s why I wanted to share a thought that came to my mind. In Psalm 23 we read, even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me. The Word of God says, when we walk through the valley of shadow of death, when we are about to be swallowed by death, the Lord stays close to us. In the beginning of the Psalm we see that the Psalmist was using words like leading, guiding etc. But when we arrive at the valley of shadow of death, the Lord comes close to us. We see an intimate relationship at this point. The blessedness of a child of God is that the Lord stays close to him at the time of his death. If we are going to die during this Corona season, there may not be anybody to come and give us a decent burial. Nobody may come wearing a PP Kit, some unknown labourer may bury us or even burn our bodies. Whatever it may be, a child of God can say with confidence that my Lord is going to be with me at the time of my death. If the Lord is with you at the time of your death, all the other things will hold no value. Neither the size of the crowd, nor the magnitude of the ceremony has any value. Rather we should have this great confidence that when a child of God dies, the Lord stays close to him. Another thing that came to my mind was, the death of Moses. Moses was the greatest leader ever. It is portrayed so beautifully in the Scripture that at the time of his death, he was taken to the peak of Mount Pisgah and Yahweh buried him. Nobody knows where Moses was buried. There was no crowd, there was no special ceremony, there were neither any priests nor any rituals. No songs, no eulogies. There was absolutely nobody in front of Moses’ dead body. The one who gave the Law to the people of Israel, the one who taught them how to conduct a funeral, here lies his dead body, without receiving any of those rites and honours. Was it a blessed funeral? Or was it a doomed one? I would say that was the most blessed funeral on this earth. The reason is: Yahweh buried Moses. The Creator burying His creation with His own hand. The one who formulated the instructions for a funeral, He Himself comes down to conduct Moses’ funeral. What a blessed occasion it is!! Though there was no crowd, he can gladly say that my Lord buried me. Psalmist tells us that Yahweh remains close to us when we walk through the valley of shadow of death. When Moses died, only Yahweh was there to bury him. The word ‘only’ does not indicate any lack, rather it demonstrates the sufficiency. The presence of the Lord is sufficient than anything else. We can call it the uttermost blessedness.

Dear children of God, a small message that I want to convey through this is: It doesn’t matter how we die or how we are buried. We may die on the road and some unknown people may throw our dead bodies into a pit. We do not know how we are going to die and it does not matter at all. It doesn’t matter who is going bury us. But let us have this confidence in our hearts that when we go through the valley of shadow of death, our Lord is going to be with us. So do not worry about Corona or our death. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. If you are a child of God, your death is precious to the Lord. May the Lord help us to face this uncertainty with the confidence that the Lord is with us. Amen.

 

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