Another Brief Excerpt From My Book
Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy
Even when life is a black abyss, we must have faith, because God has promised: “I am with you.” Even when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, we must not give in to fear; which is to say we must not give in to the worm of anxiety that would bite us in a never ending circle, a circle in which we curl ourselves up forever and hate ourselves because we have not the power to make ourselves into gods. “The valley of the shadow”—it’s a long way from Paradise. And yet he is with me. I hold close to him in faith, a faith that comes to life through the breath of love, however faint that breath may be. “You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (see Psalm 23:4).
The rod and the staff may thrash the sheep like heavy blows in order to prevent the sheep from thrusting himself blindly in and out of the thickets of that valley of shadows. The sheep may have to endure the hard stinging snaps of the shepherd staff again and again, because his staff is the only thing the sheep can feel in the darkness, and the shepherd is determined not to lose the sheep; indeed he is determined to keep him as close to himself as possible.
It is probably in the most terrified and the most lost moments of the journey, when we are bleeding from so much running away and rolling in the brambles, that he raises us up and carries us on his shoulders. And we bleat and thrash and struggle because he locks our legs together in his strong hands. It is good that he is so strong. He is stronger. Love is stronger. We must never lose our trust in God. We must hold on to him, in the midst of the fury, with our understanding wherein we know by faith that his promise is true, with our love wherein we already know that his mercy is at the end of all things.