By Michael Desgrosseilliers, Elijah House Prayer Counselor
Over the last few years, we have experienced so many difficulties and challenges that many of us feel a little apprehensive right now. What will this new year bring? Because we need things to go well in 2024.
For some, hope and faith are at an all-time low. “Is God going to come through for us? Can we still trust Him to come and save us?”
A couple of well-known prophetic voices connected the year 2023 with Psalm 23 and the promises it contains. If we take a few minutes to think about it with the Lord, I think many of us can see how at least some of our journey through 2023 lines up with Psalm 23. We experienced what felt like “the valley of the shadow of death” in certain ways, and now we are waiting to see if goodness and mercy are really going to find us.
Let’s take a look at key parts of Psalm 23 and the amazing things God did for us during a difficult year.
He Is Good
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. (NKJV)
The first three verses of Psalm 23 establish several truths we need to cling to in times of trouble. First is God’s goodness and care. He is truly the good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep in every way. He wants the very best for us, and He has goodness stored up for us. “The goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:4b NKJV).
In His goodness and kindness, the Lord provides for us, leads us to good places and things, heals and restores us, draws us along the path of righteousness (holiness), and so much more. This is not just the promise we encounter at the beginning of our walk with Him—but it is also the outcome of our walk with Him.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… (NKJV)
The valley of the shadow of death is like a desert. In the natural, trying to cross a desert is a hot and dry endeavor, and it is the same in the spiritual. This valley is a place where we feel alone and like God is nowhere to be found. Some Christians call this valley the “dark night of the soul,” from the sixteenth-century writings of the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross. For at least some of 2023, many of us felt like we were living in that valley.
In dry seasons, it is important to understand God is the Bringer of life, not death (John 10:10). When we face difficult times, He is not the source of those times, but He is allowing the enemy to challenge us. We see this principle in Job’s story. God allows difficulties to lead us to change—to repentance. At the end of Job’s “desert,” he cried out, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5 NLT).
In those desert wandering times, when we are troubled and crying out for help, we usually can’t feel the Lord’s presence. It seems like He has rejected us and turned away, when we are actually in a “Footprints in the Sand” season. He has not left us—He is carrying us (Isa. 46:4).
Through painful experiences, we realize our faith is not based on what we feel—but on what we know. This “knowing faith” is very important for what comes next in Psalm 23.
God’s Loving Discipline and Safety
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (NKJV)
As adults, we are still children in God’s sight, and sometimes we struggle with foolishness. Proverbs 22:15 says foolishness is “bound up” in a child’s heart, and “the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (NKJV). A loving shepherd—in this case, the Lord—will administer discipline or correction in appropriate ways. A rod can be a tool of discipline, but it is primarily used as a weapon against predators trying to harm the flock. The staff is another weapon, but it is also a tool of rescue. If a sheep gets caught in briars, the shepherd can pull it out with the crook of his staff. Or if a lamb is separated from its mother, a shepherd will pick up the lamb with the crook, not his hands (lest the mother reject the lamb because of human scent).
In difficult, dangerous places, where we feel alone and deserted—our good Shepherd is right there to protect us from evil, free us from entanglements trying to hurt us, get us back to where we need to be, and otherwise work to benefit us in every way. He is with us, and He is fighting for us, even when our emotions tell us otherwise.
Rewards of Enduring the Journey
You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies. (MSG)
As we come out of this desert journey, before us is a large table filled with an abundance of our favorite foods and drinks—more than we could eat in a month. There is a single seat, and it is ours by invitation. The Lord wants us to sit down and feast.
But then we hear something and look up—and it is like a scene from The Lord of the Rings. A demonic horde has gathered against us, snarling and shouting. They look ready to attack.
If we had not walked through the valley of the shadow of death and developed a knowing faith that supersedes a feeling faith, we would probably do one of two things:
- We would run away in fear.
- Or we would rush headlong at the enemy, thinking that is what God wants, and probably get clobbered.
But because God worked to develop our knowing faith, now we get to enjoy a huge feast as He deals with our enemies.
Living in Deeper Trust
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The end result of Psalm 23 is a much deeper, more trusting relationship with the Lord, our Shepherd. For reasons of His own, God allowed the enemy to test us through the experiences of 2023.
But now we are ready to enter Psalm 24 in the year 2024.
A Time of Jubilee
In Christian and Jewish circles, there are different views of the year of Jubilee and when it falls on the calendar. Some say it happened in 2023 and ended on Yom Kippur, and some say it is happening right now, in 2024. Either way, we are certainly within a season of Jubilee, because this is a time of freedom—from bondage, loss, and other injustices we have experienced.
Psalm 23 talks about becoming aware of the injustices and walking through the challenges, while Psalm 24 talks about a major shift, where we start living in a new freedom in God.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters. (Ps. 24:1–2 NKJV)
These verses acknowledge who the Lord is in our life. We recognize Him as the Good Shepherd and realize He is for us in every way.
Through the difficulties He allowed us to go through in 2023, our heart has met the cross in deeper ways, and we have been transformed. We might not feel it yet, but in His sight, things are different now. We are able to stand in His holy place, beautifully in relationship with Him.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully. (Ps. 24:3–4 NKJV)
A Better Time Is Coming
Everywhere we look, we still see evil and wickedness. We’re dealing with numerous troubles, and many of them are painfully obvious. God isn’t asking us to ignore what is happening or to stick our head in the sand.
This is 2024, and we are in a startlingly new season. The Lord is inviting us to lift our eyes toward Him. The more we do, the more we will see and recognize His hope and promise. He is aware of all evil, He is not troubled by evil, He has victory over evil. We have absolute assurance of His victory and that we will be victorious with Him (Ps. 121:1–2).
As you reflect on 2023, recognize the lessons and value of the journey—no matter how difficult—that prepared you to walk in the promises of Psalm 24 in 2024. This will be a year of freedom like we haven’t experienced in a long time, perhaps ever. We are going to see God do incredible things.
If your heart has trouble believing God's promises or is hesitant to have hope for this year, consider registering for our course titled 201: Heart Healing Essentials. This course offers amazing, Bible-based tools that will help you think the way He made you to think! Click here to learn more.