The Darkest Valley

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The Darkest Valley

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[
a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me
.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

On December 2, 2009 my husband was diagnosed with AML, a very aggressive form of Leukemia. Over the course of the next year, I would be a caretaker for him in ways I could never have imagined. That year consisted of an everyday fight for his life. Each day we would be focused on what the treatment for that day was or what we could count as our small victory. Because of the kind of Leukemia he had, we ended up having to move out of state to a cancer hospital in Houston, Texas for a bone marrow transplant. We knew we would live there for at least four months. Our kids ranged in ages from six to seventeen so we took our entire family including my husband’s sixty-five-year-old mother and moved to a small apartment near the hospital he would be getting his treatments. He was admitted into the hospital for the first thirty days of the one hundred days of the transplant process. I spent seven days a week at the hospital. I would only make a brief visit back to the apartment on Fridays to do laundry, check school work, and make a run to the grocery store to get food for the kids and their grandmother. Then, I would pack back up, and head back to the hospital. In that four months in Houston, he spent maybe a total of 10 days outside of the hospital and in the apartment with his family due to different complications of the transplant.  I filled my days with taking care of his needs and researching treatments and medical terminology. I wanted to understand all that the doctors and nurses said, and I was also very much determined to find the cure. His body had taken many physical hits due to the intense treatments but bless him, things were about to get even harder. While in Houston, he suffered a heart attack. The doctors discovered his heart had ninety to one-hundred percent blockages on all his main arteries. The condition was so advanced the doctor did not even want him to move in fear that something might happen. This discovery came at the end of the four-month transplant process therefore, that part of the journey was complete. We had already sent the kids back to Tennessee to start school thinking we would follow shortly. My husband was insistent that he was going home to Tennessee to have open heart surgery. So, against the doctor’s advice he checked himself out of the heart hospital in Houston and he and I drove fourteen hours back to Nashville where he went straight into Vanderbilt Medical center to have heart surgery. The surgery went good and he finally got to go back home.  

In the next three months he would have a decline in health due to the cancer and ultimately find peace with the Lord on December 20, 2010. That year of fighting cancer was filled with so many ups and downs. Every day was “are we on the hill?” or “are we in the valley?” I often think, “How did I do it? How did I know what the right decisions were? How did I know how to care for him? How did I know who to call or where we would live or how would we pay our bills?” While on that hill or in that valley I did not always see how these questions were being answered. Looking back now, I know it was my shepherd. He was right there with us offering provision and love. He continued to walk through those valleys with me as I struggled with grief and loss afterwards. He used our family, friends, and most of all, his word to give me peace and comfort.  There is no other way I would have made it!

As you walk through your darkest valleys, DO NOT BE AFRAID. Remember HE is your shepherd, he will give you peace as if laying in green meadows or walking by beautiful streams. He will renew your strength. He will guide you in the right path so that you will bring honor to his name. He will protect and comfort you. He will provide for you. His blessings are overflowing. And he will constantly be pursuing you with his goodness and unfailing love.

Loving father, I praise you today for your unfailing love. I am humbled by your provision and grace. I want to lean further into you. I want to trust and not be afraid. As we walk dark valleys, I know you will be there. Help me keep my eyes on you and I know I will see your blessings. Let me be ever so close to my shepherd and be strengthened by your spirit.I thank you Lord for loving me despitemy fear and disbelief. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Amy Pearson

River Community Church