Our GPS Settings in the Valley of Shadows

Hebrews 12:1-2 “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...”


On Friday July 20, 2012 at around12:38 am, a mass shooting occurred during a midnight screening of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises at a Century Movie-Theater in Aurora, Colorado. The attack occurred in Theater-9 at the Century-16 Cinema located at the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall. A gunman dressed in protective gear and clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The sole suspect is 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, who was arrested outside the theater minutes later. So far this is the largest number of casualties of a mass shooting in United States history.


When we look at this type of a demonic massacre, the world can be a very scary place to live in!!! Every time we pick up the morning paper or read the internet news or turn on the television, the media provides us with more evidence of just how terrifying life can be. Fires that rage out of control, brutal warfare abroad, incessant terrorist attacks, gangs and criminals who terrorize our streets, illness, death, unemployment, and a host of more private sorrows are the constant companions of the living. We are all wounded by the simple act of staying alive in this broken world.


Throughout the Bible, we read of the challenges and torments that afflicted the people of God—childlessness, sibling rivalry, murder, loveless marriage, rape, war. Even the humblest of all prophets, Moses, encountered enough bitterness that he several times suggested that he would prefer death to the life he was living. However, when Moses gave his farewell address (Deut 1:1-3:22) on the border of the Promised Land to the people Israel, Moses twice repeats the idea: "Fear not, and be not dismayed" and "Have no dread or fear of them." In fact, Moses quotes God as saying, "I have delivered him [Canaan – the Promised Land] into your hand." Note that the Torah doesn't promise "I will deliver him" but assures that the deed is as good as done. What's going on here? Surely Moses, a man who had suffered so profoundly, knows that life is no bed of roses. So how can he offer this Pollyannaish advice of “Hakuna Matata” (Swahili for “Don't worry; be happy”)? We have some good reasons to fear, so why is God adamant on this point of “No Fear?” Perhaps the Word of God is teaching us about the right attitude with which to face life's painful impediments. In a sense, our propensity to fear can be our worst enemy, more dangerous than the object of the fear itself. In the face of the unknown, our fantasies are more threatening than our realities. In the face of life's challenges, giving way to our pessimism and our fear strips us of our will to fight. Fear is the ally of tragedy, transforming spirited humans into passive victims. God knows about our propensity to fear, and so He instructs us that half of our victory in our battle against fear lies in our refusal to give in to the fear-factor!!!


You may ask…”PM, how in the world do I do that – how do I stand against such paralyzing fears???”  The ANSWER to your question, my dear friend, is wrapped up in the three words from the text message in Heb.12:1-2: “looking unto Jesus.”

Hey, there is something that is much more powerful than fear… and that is HOPE!!! And this “Hope” is derived from the direction we look. If we look at circumstances, at ourselves, at the past or at trends—if we look at the situation from any other view rather than through the lens of faith in God’s Word—we will get fear-filled. HOWEVER, turning our eyes toward God’s redemptive, recovering, restoring possibilities, which are always available through His Son and His Spirit, is the place where true HOPE lives!!! That is where we get HOPE – in Christ Jesus! “Looking unto Jesus” –>“Turning to Him” is the “Turning point”

The commandment of “looking unto Jesus,” when your fear level is up and your hope level is down to low or nothing, isn’t simply a religious summons…it’s a signpost toward a pathway that will provide two things for your recovery: a Director and a Destination.

The first, of course, is the Director (Savior) —the Savior Man like no other, because He is God above all—Jesus, who suffered the horrors of His Friday because He was on His way to the hope- and joy-filled reality of a Sunday. His Friday was a pathway toward the Resurrection, even if all we can see on His Friday is apparent agony and depressing defeat that appears to end with His body being placed in a hopeless hole in the ground.  To listen to Him speak from His Cross on that Friday is to learn to walk toward hope when we face our fears. Hopeless days and fearful times happen in the lives of everyone. They come more often than we think we deserve, and they sometimes last much longer than we think we can stand. That’s the reason every child of Christ needs to have their GPS set to Hebrews 12:1-2 for navigating through hopeless days. When I see people experience fear-filled and hopeless days, I’ve learned to urge them to come to a Destination – the Cross.

The sum of human pain, problem, futility and hopelessness is focused here at the Cross of Christ—all fear, all suffering, all rejection, all painfulness, all exhaustion, all misunderstanding, all anger, all hatred, all sinning, all depression, all loneliness, all death. But also focused here at the Cross is all wisdom and understanding, and all faith, hope and love. It is by and unto that love we are summoned most of all—to look unto Jesus and to welcome Him into our hopeless days, having seen Him approach His agonizing day of crucifixion. Jesus handled his agonizing day in a way that saw beyond it: “For the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the Cross.” He related to each moment of that agonizing day in a manner that overthrew the power of fear and pain, showing us the way to do the same anytime we face our fears or failures…Ultimately the faith of the believer is the resilience of hope we get in and through and from Christ.

Remember: “A Christian life is impossible to live; only Christ can live it through you…”

Refusing to give in to despair, the Christian can muster the inner resilience that comes from the spiritual depth of Christ where there is a vision of holiness which transcends time. It is not that we can avoid suffering entirely, but we can fashion our response to suffering just as Christ responded to suffering (Hebrews 12:1-2) with a renewed commitment to the Word, Will and Way of the Father and the Spirit. Hence, we too can make our mark in a broken world by how we respond to fear, pain and disappointment. By living out our rich connection to Christ in the midst of fear and hopelessness, we too can embody His remarkable hope and courage: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27b)

Hey friends…FEAR NOT! Keep looking at Him  - that’s our GPS settings in the Valley of Shadows…


  • The Everyday Torah by  Bradley Shavit Artson
  • Hope for a Hopeless Day: Encouragement and Inspiration When You Need it Most by Jack Hayford