Shadows


Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried.
Isaiah 53:4a

The day after 19 children and two adults were killed in the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Randy Stonehill recalled a 2018 concert he and his wife did in Uvalde and wrote on his Facebook page:

“I’m sure the shadow of Job from Scripture is hanging over the aching hearts of grieving friends and relatives in Uvalde today. Through their shock and sorrow, they must be asking God “How could this happen? Why did this happen?” We don’t know. All we know, as we look at the Cross, is that there is no injustice and no human suffering that Jesus is not intimately acquainted with.”

He echoed words from Os Guinness’ book Doubt that have brought me comfort and encouragement in my darkest times.

“When a Christian comes to faith his understanding and his trust go hand in hand, but as he continues in faith his trust may sometimes be called to go on by itself without his under­standing.”1

“It is not a leap of faith but a walk of faith. As believers we cannot always know why, but we can always know why we trust God who knows why, and this makes all the difference.”2

“A Christian too recoils from such a snake-pit of evil. He feels the same pain, the same agony, The same questions, the same silence. A Christian does not know why either, but (and here alone is the difference) he knows why he trusts God who knows why.”3

Psalm 23 is probably the most famous of all the psalms. In it David wrote:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4a

The word translated as shadow speaks of “…the shadow of deepest darkness – “black gloom” (not death per se)…the deepest trial, feeling like one is in abject darkness (“death-shadow”).”4 Losing a child is a valley of one of the darkest shadows you can ever walk through.

Why, how can we trust God in the deepest darkness of our lives?

Because of Jesus:

“…not in his youth, but in his prime, who freely took on himself the full desolation of God’s silence so that after suffering in our place he might restore us to his Father, that then we might be sure that God is there, and God is good.

“For the Christian the cry of Jesus, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ will always have depths of meaning which the human mind can never fathom. But one thing at least it means. No man can sink so low that God has not gone lower still.”5

“…it is those whose faith in God is anchored in the incarnation—God become flesh, crucified, risen—whose faith can pass through the fires of suffering. For there is no question however deep or painful which cannot be trusted with the God who is the Father of Jesus Christ.”6

For those who know Jesus there is a greater shadow than the shadow of Job, a greater shadow than the shadow of the valley of our deepest darkness—the shadow of the Cross. And in that shadow, in the midst of our darkest times the God of hope, the God of all comfort is with us.

There’s an old hymn titled, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” that speaks of taking refuge in the shadow of the cross. The phrase is taken from the King James translation of Isaiah 4:6.

And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.
Isaiah 4:6 KJV

The shadow in Isaiah 4:6 is a very different shadow than the shadow of the valley of death in Psalm 23. In Isaiah 4:6 the Hebrew word ṣēl is:

“a shadow which reflects someone’s nearby presence; (figuratively) the full protection afforded by someone personally present – furnishing the support needed for safety and refreshment. It is preeminently used of the glorious presence of Yahweh* Himself (Ps 17:8, 36:8,** etc.).

“…shade or shadow under which someone finds protection – permanently when furnished by the Lord as our “shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (Is 25:4, 32:2, 49:2) – but temporarily (fleetingly) under anything else (cf. Job 8:9).”7

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” begins with these words.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty Rock
within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat
and the burden of the day.

As my husband and I were talking about Os Guiness’ words and the Uvalde tragedy, he brought up Isaiah 53:4, and Jesus bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows. Jesus knows how we feel when we feel God is silent and that God has forsaken us, because God literally had forsaken Jesus on the cross as He bore the wrath of God we deserved for our sin.

Jesus knows how we feel. He sympathizes with our weaknesses and is ready to give us mercy and grace to help in our time of need.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Isaiah 4 is a Messianic prophecy. Jesus is Emmanuel: God with us. In the here and now He is with us, through His Spirit protecting us, keeping us, comforting us. And one day there will come a day when we will see and know:

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:3b–4
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:4
For He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”
Hebrews 13:5b


Miedo ajeno: RayNata. Public Domain.
Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break“: Walter Langley. Public Domain.
Stone Cross, St Brelade’s Parish Church, Jersey, The Channel Islands: FreeFoto.com. Site has been deleted.
1,2,3,5,6Os Guinness, Doubt (Lion Publishing plc, England: 1976; Third Edition,1987) 199, 199–200, 211, 211, 213.
4,7HELPS Lexicon, The Discovery Bible.
8Raymond C Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Crossway Books, Wheaton IL: 2005) 62; Isaiah 4:2–6, The Discovery Bible.
*In his Introduction to Psalms By The Day: A New Devotional Translation (Christian Focus Publications Ltd, Ross-shire, Scotland, U.K. 2016), Alec Motyer wrote:
“The divine name ‘Yahweh’ well at first sound strange in your ears, being used to the established (but mistaken) English convention I’ve representing the name as ‘the Lord’. We who are of an older generation will remember the days when calling someone by their Christian name was a privilege granted not to be presumed upon. It meant something to us when a senior friend said, ‘Please call me by my Christian name’; the relationship had ripened into a new intimacy and privilege. So it was in Genesis 4:26 when people began to call their God by his personal name; so it was even more when the significance of that Name was revealed to Moses (Exod. 3:15). A totally false sense of reverence later said ‘The Name is too holy for us to use,’ and the custom was introduced of representing it as ‘the Lord’. No, no. He has granted us the privilege, and we should learn (belatedly) to live in the benefit of it. Hebrew has two main nouns for ‘God’. There is a plural elohim, God in the fullness of the divine attributes ― for simplicity I translate this as ‘God’ ― and the singular el which I translate as ‘transcendent God’. But there is only one ‘Name’. ‘God’ is what he is; Yahweh is who he is.”
**After looking at Psalm 36, I think the reference must be to 36:7.

You can find my posts on Job at Read the Bible in 2011: Winter Quarter and Read the Bible in 2011: Spring Quarter.

Copyright ©2022 Iwana Carpenter

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