“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,
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
Psalm 23 (NLT)
If you have ever felt as though you have been caught up in the chaos of life, you are definitely not alone! It’s safe to say that part of living in a fallen world means facing head-on trials and tribulations that often appear bigger or stronger or more overwhelming than we think we can handle.
If one Bible passage has been the greatest comfort to those who are grieving and/or struggling with the unpredictable challenges of this life, it’s the twenty-third Psalm. This passage is rich in vivid imagery and alive with memorable phrases. It also reveals the heart of a Savior whose “goodness and unfailing love” seek us at all times. He is with us when our lives feel ordinary or uneventful; He is also with us when we experience the turbulence in those dark valleys.
Many of the students with whom International Students, Inc. comes in contact live in places where darkness pervades nearly every aspect of daily life. Some of them live in areas where threats and acts of terrorism and war are very real. Many of these students are experiencing dark valleys—coupled with the absence of knowing a loving Savior.
But, because of the dedication of ISI staffers, volunteers and donors, we are able to speak truth into the lives of international students who desperately need to hear about God’s very real and unfailing love for them. One of our staff members from Texas sent in a beautiful testimonial highlighting God’s handiwork in action! Let it be a reminder that He is all we need. Our staffer writes:
“Just five minutes before taking off for the Spring Break Retreat, a call came in from ‘Barry,’ a new student, asking if there was room for one more to join us. Unfortunately, we had to invite him to join us next year instead—but, that’s not what God had in mind! We literally had another student back out at the last minute, so Barry came running to the van 10 minutes later! Amazingly, God had provided a way for Barry to come with a scholarship paying his expenses! During our very last large group meeting. I glanced over and he was in a true posture of worship! A volunteer noticed as well and leaned over and whispered in my ear: “It looks like someone has had a heart change!” The Lord had indeed been working in Barry’s Hindu heart; on his response card was his very own indication of his decision to trust Jesus with his life and committing to follow Him! Not only did God switch out a couple of students for this trip, He switched out a heart of darkness for one filled with His light! To God be the glory!”
Yes, we live in a fallen world. But “seek Him first” and you can delight in being assured that your Savior knows what you need; has all the answers and is with you at all times. Let us pray for stories like this to overflow the ISI offices! For our God, and our God alone, can reach the unreachable and fill a heart of darkness with His inimitable light.
In relation to Psalm 23, I encourage you, friend, to take a moment to reflect and be reminded that no matter what we are going through, He is with us. I encourage you to remember that:
- He is Your source: He knows what you need and is able to supply it. Whether it’s resting in fields of green grass (v.2), or drinking at streams of peaceful water (v.2), He is your source. Where your strength ends, His strong arms can carry you. Where your way seems blocked, He has already plotted a better one for you.
- He is Your answer: When money won’t buy an answer, when all the thinking in the world doesn’t help, God is your answer. When the valleys are as dark as death (v.4), and you have no idea where to turn, you can feel His peaceful, comforting presence coming alongside you, so that even without knowing where’s He’s taking you, you don’t feel so afraid.
- He is Your security: His kindness and love have been your constant companions each day of your life (v.6). Sometimes it didn’t feel so loving. Sometimes you felt like He was stretching you to the breaking point; sometimes you felt like He was being too hard on you. Now though, you realize He was taking you places you never would have gone yourself—like being able to “live forever in your house, Lord” (v.6). He must love you a lot to want you with Him for all of time.
Now, go forth with a beautiful, blessed week, experiencing the protection and shelter of the One who loves you! Please, also take a moment to pray for us here at ISI as we continue our mission to reach every international student for Christ.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)
If you are going through a dark valley, we would love to join you in prayer. Send your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Learn more about how our projects are reaching international students for Christ.