Is there Blessing in the Valley?

Posted: 14/12/2011 in God
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Why is it that when we refer to the metaphorical valley of life we perceive it only as a place of despair, trial or suffering and then of one that we have to get out of ourselves? How do we even get into these metaphorical valleys?  Sometimes that’s where the path leads and we have no other option but to walk down it. Life with all its challenges will happen whether we like it or not. Circumstances will arise that we never considered possible because we live in an imperfect world. At other times we wander off the path and take a route that looks more interesting. If the path we are on seems to be dull, bland, and endless and because we don’t see where it leads and the excitement, promise and thrill of what is around the corner we chose instant gratification; that path instead that looks so enticing. Alternatively we may consider that the path we are on is too hard and surely there must be a better way. We don’t listen to the one who knows not only the valley but the mountain and all the terrain around it. He has been there forever, more so he has walked it himself and can tell us which path to take and which to avoid. Nor do we listen to those we meet along the way who have walked that path before us. Our own arrogance tells us we can do it on our own and our independence tells us we don’t need help. At other times we will actually dig our own valley because we are stuck, it seems we can’t go up or down, left or right and so we try to dig our way out. Whatever it is we somehow, at some stage will end up in the valley. It’s what we do when we’re there that will determine our valley experience.

Do we see the beauty in the valley?

I remember walking through Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. It is a long valley situated between impressive snow capped Alps with waterfalls that tumble over the cliff faces. In the valley there is gorgeous rivers fed by the melting snow that meander through trees of all kinds. Small insects flutter over flowers and the tinkle of cow bells can be heard as they munch on earths carpet. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen and yet it is a valley. It would be easy to look at the cliffs either side and consider yourself to be stuck there forever unable to see any way out. And when you know there is something even better on the other side you don’t want to stay there forever. At the same time you could focus on the not so pleasant days when it’s cold and wet and muddy, the insects are hiding, the cows are sheltered, the river is a raging torrent and dark, angry clouds spill over the cliffs. The same applies to our metaphorical valley. While we are walking through it we are so focused on the insurmountable odds that we neither see the beauty of the work our heavenly Father is doing in us or the way out He is showing us. We wander aimlessly and hopelessly. Yet scripture tells us that “God works all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I have been meditating on this verse a lot lately and I can see the good things he is doing even while in my valley.

Do we focus only at the endless steep path before us?

Have you ever been hiking whether it is up a steep mountain, one obstructed by thick foliage or in unmerciful weather? It can be a daunting climb but the reward is breathtaking views, stunning scenery or wildlife in their natural habitat. In the same way when in our metaphorical valley the mountains surrounding us can seem treacherous and impossible to climb and as long as that remains our focus they will be. Sometimes we even chose to stay in the valley because; despite the anguish down there, it is better than the pain we think we will suffer in climbing an impossible looking mountain. Yet the bible tells us that we can do all things (not some things) through Christ who gives us strength (Phil 4:13) and that “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19)

We fail to believe that the other side is better

When the valley has been difficult and the mountain a colossal obstacle how can we even imagine that the other side offers something that is greater than our pain and far beyond any joy we’ve experienced; a place of freedom, hope and exciting adventure. It is so easy to offer every excuse as to why it might not be that way, especially if we’ve known much suffering but the promises of God tell us differently. And there are numerous ones but perhaps the most well known is Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” . Rather than try to figure out how the other side can possibly be ok based on we think we know, we need to trust our Father’s promises and walk towards them even if that is up and over a mountain. He will give us rest when we ask for it (Matt 28:11-30) and strength when we need it (Isaiah 40:31).

The valley has been a long one

For some the valley has been endless. It has been a place of anguish, distress and utter hopelessness. Nightmares exist there, darkness and great horrors. Unthinkable torment, more than many of us can comprehend, has been the experience of many. And in valleys there lurk predators, the enemy of our God who looks for those he can devour, kill and destroy (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8). In these times if we can do nothing else, we MUST cling to the promises of God. For he promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5), he promises to save us (Zephaniah 3:17), he promises he will be with us in our brokenness (Psalm 34:17-18). The problem occurs when we try and figure out how he is going to do this and when and where and through who or what. Rather than rely on our own imperfect understanding we desperately need to look to God who will bring us through the valley if we trust him (Proverbs 3:5-6) and look to his son who has been there before us. “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever” (Hebrews 12:2).

I’m not writing as some casual observer, I am in my own valley and this is only what I’m learning. I can’t afford to think about how I’ll get the top, I shouldn’t even think about how I’ll get from where I end up tonight to the next place tomorrow. I focus my eyes on Jesus and consider how I’ll get through today one step at a time. And along the way I consider the beauty of the work he is doing and the promises he has given me because it just might be that there is blessing in the valley as well as on the other side of the mountain.

  1. “Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring;The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84
    That is one of my favorite wilderness and pilgrim scripture. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It is very useful and a real blessing to me. Remain blessed.

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