Before I jump into the continuation of my look at Psalm 23, I wish to offer my heart-felt thanks to all veterans who have served our country, putting themselves in harm’s way in order to help keep America free and great. Thank you!

Verse 4 in Psalm 23 says this: "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."

Everyone has had times when they were afraid — military persons in times of battle, first responders in the midst of a crisis, people facing health issues and drastic changes in life.

Whether the fear was because of a real danger facing you, that of a friend, a time of deep loss, or great anguish over a dumb mistake that was made, dark times have been real.

These kinds of events are a part of life, unfortunately. But as you go through them, you can teach yourself to remember that God never leaves your side. He is beside you every step of the way. He guides you just as a loving and caring shepherd uses the shepherd’s crook to keep sheep in his charge safe.

The shepherd’s crook is used to pull a sheep from danger. It is used to nudge a sheep that may be stubborn, not paying attention, or wandering away from the flock.

God does the same with his sheep. When God nudges you, it is a reminder that he is watching over you. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. He never takes his eyes off you.

God provides his protection and his comfort. All you need do is remember he is there and you will feel his presence. You will feel his love. And you can then trust he will provide the right guidance to lead you out of any darkness that may try to surround you.

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.