When I unknowingly opened a mail bomb in 1990, God miraculously protected me. It’s only by his grace that I am alive today. Looking back, I’m grateful that I didn’t panic, but remained calm during all the chaos after the explosion. How did that happen? you may wonder. How can anyone find their wits and remain calm in the midst of trauma?

The Bible says that it is the spirit of a man that sustains him in trouble. This is one of the promises of God: to strengthen us when we feel weak. You may be in the middle of something that has exploded or imploded in your life. But even now you can remain grounded, calm, and stable in spite of your circumstances. God will help you through the dark, hard, low places, and one of the most beautiful psalms in the Bible tells us this.

Psalm 23 has always brought me great comfort. Especially during and immediately after the mail bomb exploded in my lap, the words of this psalm helped me. They comforted me in that very real valley of the shadow of death because they acknowledged five promises from God:

1. You don’t have to be afraid because God is with you.

It may seem like you are in a valley of death, but that valley is just a shadow. God is walking with you, guiding your steps out of the valley. Keep following him and he will bring you to a mountain top, where you can see beauty again and breathe freely.

2. God’s rod and staff will comfort you.

It’s not just for pretty imagery that a rod and staff are mentioned in Psalm 23. A rod is a symbol of authority and a staff is an instrument of support. God offers you both. He has authority over you and that means no one, nor any thing or situation, can snatch you from his hands. He will support you and hold you up in the valley.

3. God causes you to triumph.

Did you know that you can have a triumphant attitude in the valley? You can because the valley is temporary and God is working on your behalf, even preparing a table for you in the presence of your enemies. How beautiful is that, to feast your spirit in the places of emotional famine!

4. God strengthens you to make it.

He anoints your head with oil. That means God chooses to be with you, in you, filling you with his strength. Oil represents the Holy Spirit—God’s presence in you. The Holy Spirit is your helper, who empowers you to go through the valley and get to the mountain top. You don’t have to walk alone, do everything in your own strength, which is limited anyway. You can rely upon God’s limitless power at work in you, for you.

5. Goodness and mercy will follow you.

No matter what you face today, you cannot get away from God’s great goodness and mercy. You may be in a dark valley, but the blessings of God follow you wherever you go. You may not think so. For example, you may need a new job and pray for God’s favor in an interview for one, but don’t get it. God may have spared you from something that was less than what he designed for you. Believe in his goodness, rely on his grace, for he is always for you. He is the shepherd who cares for and loves his sheep through every valley.

Excerpt from “You Are Made For More!”, Chapter 1