For many years, to be diagnosed with the HI virus, was a death sentence. Family members and friends of people living with HIV and AIDS, literally saw before their eyes how they entered “the valley of the shadow of death” as their bodies wasted away. Often, the only comfort given to them, was the promise in Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
With time two things changed: Firstly, to be HIV+ need no longer be a death sentence. With the medication available today and the relative ease through which treatment is accessible, the majority of those who have this virus will survive and will have long and meaningful life.
The second thing which changed was the attitude of the church. In earlier days the church brought the message about God’s rod and staff which will serve as comfort to those entering the valley of the shadow of death. But with time more and more Christians realised that they are in fact God’s rod and God’s staff. They are the ones called and sent by God to bring comfort to the afflicted. No longer do they only bring the message of comfort, but by standing next to those who feel as though they are entering the valley of the shadow of death, they physically represent the comfort that God wants to give to all who live in uncertainty and fear of their fate.
To think about: Has your faith community become a haven of comfort and rest for those who feel as though they have entered the valley of the shadow of death?