Have you ever been hit with a trial that sends you spinning? You know, the type of trial that shows up on your front porch with extra-large suitcases in each hand, long-stay intended? Life can be moving along at a rather nice rhythm; and, in the blink of an eye, everything can come to a sudden halt. Immediately the clock stops, you are dropped off on Valley Avenue, staring at a dead-end street.
When a trial comes on quick like this, Let me be the first to say, my first reaction is usually anger. Yes, I said it…anger! I’m sure there are many reasons for this, like one being my own sinful nature. But another reason that comes to my small mind is that my body rises up in angry defense because of a sense of danger. It’s like my mind gears up due to a perceived threat to its well being.
During one of these trials, my husband and I began to look at a passage in Psalms. Psalm 23:4:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Even though I walk
What a great reminder: I walk. In order to walk, you must first have the ability to stand. So, yes, you may be in a valley, but you are on your feet and not crushed. Walking, and not paralyzed with despair. Yes, IT HURTS! But, think about it, corpses can fell no pain. The fact that you can even feel pain is because you are STILL alive!
Thru the Valley
So, while you walk, you don’t have to go in circles leading to nowhere. God is continuing to direct your life, even leading you through valleys to get to the destination that He has already planned. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we only “visit” Valley Avenue, but we don’t have to stay there? Praise God that Valley Avenue is not a dead street!
Shadow of Death
A Shadow can’t be cast unless there is light nearby. God helps us not to focus on the shadow but on the light that is everpresent. The picture above is the Roanoke Valley in Virginia. As you can see here, the valley doesn’t mean that there are no resources like shade, water, fertile soil, and vegetation. There were many times in the bible where God helped his people in their valleys. A few examples are:
- Hagar fled from her mistress Sarai to the wilderness. There the angel of the Lord found her and encouraged her. (Genesis 16:7-14)
- Hannah was barren and earnestly prayed in the temple that the Lord would give her children. God spoke through Eli the Priest to encourage her. (I Samuel 1:9-18)
- During a time when Elijah fled from Jezebel and Ahab, he thought that all of God’s prophets were killed and he was the only prophet left. He was very discouraged. In 1 Kings chapter 19 it says, 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my father.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.
The angel also came to Elijah a second time to feed him. Our God is faithful to provide resources in the valley!
I will fear no evil. For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
When you are in the valley there is a lack of shelter. You are vulnerable to the elements of nature: temperature changes, poisonous plants, and wild creatures. Uneven terrain may beckon fatigue, foggy thinking and an occasional fall or two. Your knees may be busted, as well as your hope in Jesus. But God is your shepherd. He is walking with you. He provides for you and protects you. Just as an earthly shepherd would use his staff to fend off predators, that is what the Lord does for you. Just remembering God’s staff can bring sudden comfort in the face of fear.
My sister, there is hope during the most distressing time. God is a pro at bringing solutions to problems; making possible the impossible. So, keep on stepping!
Father, I pray to you today in weakness. I don’t know how long this trial will last, and yet I’m already so tired. Your Word tells me to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things, for that is Your will for me. By faith in Your perfect plan, I raise my heart to You. Lord direct my steps through this valley and remind me that You never leave or forsake me. I look to You Lord for wisdom and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.