I have to confess that it felt very weird to be laying on the massage table today and having these deep thoughts I currently write. But I guess because I was very relaxed I was able to be open to God speaking to me.
And what were the deep thoughts? Why do we go through things? It’s a big question, I know, one that probably can’t be fully answered. But I have had several conversations recently on the topic, and several good truths have been brought to light.
When we’re going through the tedium, the pain, the hassles, the stress, the fears, the doubts, the unexpected, and the panic of everyday life, isn’t this what we feel like:
We feel like we’re in a dry and deserted wasteland with no hope, no plan, no future, and sometimes even no God. But God is always there, and God always has a good plan for you. And yes, He will let you go through this desert for several reasons (and this list is by no means all-inclusive).
- God is trying to teach you to be a good receiver. God is very clear in Scripture that we are to be cheerful givers. Money is a gift from God, and we are merely His channel to be stewards of it. But I think we forget two very important truths about giving: (a) blessings boomerang back to us to fulfill His promise of getting back what we give and (b) we all have times where we need to receive instead of give and to allow others to be a blessing to us. In discussing this with my friend Melissa recently, she made an amazing point – when we refuse to let others pour into our lives and we refuse to be gracious receivers, we are dealing with a PRIDE problem. We are prideful in thinking that we should be giving instead of receiving. We are prideful in denying the blessing (provision) God is trying to give us. We are prideful in taking away the blessing from the person trying to give to us. We need to be open to anything God has for us – whether we are to be the blessing or the blessed one.
- God is trying to get you out of your comfort zone. We all have our “rut” where we are most comfortable – our home, our family, our job. The place where we can control most to all of the outcomes and control most to all of the details. The place where we know all the answers. But God is specific in Luke 5 that the shallow water is not the place to find Him. Progress and growth don’t happen in the shallow waters, where we can see and touch the bottom and where our heads are clearly above the water. Progress and growth happen in the DEEP waters, where God is in complete control. It’s the place of ultimate faith, where we have to sink or swim. It’s the place where we have to rely fully on God in order to do anything. It’s the place where we are obviously over our heads and therefore incapable of living by our human ideals and strengths. It’s the place that we can never be in our rut.
- God is trying to teach you compassion. You may have a judgment problem where you look at a person or group of people and question their dedication, their sincerity, their commitment, or their honesty. I know at one point I had a judgment problem with engaged couples who broke off their engagements. I always wondered how they could not know there were issues before agreeing to get married. Then I was on the receiving end of my own judgment, and the mirror image wasn’t pretty. I saw the ugliness of my haughty judgment fully, and I was humbly repentant. God let me walk through a relationship of my choosing but not His timing, and I quickly learned that my fiance was not completely committed to me. He was a great guy who loved God, but his life was full of things that took priority over our relationship. I let myself get ahead of God, and God let me enjoy the fruits of my wants. And I had to make the hard decision to end this engagement for my good, which taught me a valuable lesson about my judgment about broken engagements.
- God is giving you a testimony to share with people. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us that God will bring a testimony and a hope to people who share your sufferings and trials – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Sometimes we go through the valley because someone we know or someone (some group) we will meet will need the hope and strength and faith that we developed during our valley trip. They need to see that their circumstance is winable and survivable. They need to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you are that beacon of hope for them. Your testimony will empower people to keep moving forward and possibly point them to God.
- God is allowing you to reap a consequence of your choices. Every choice produces a consequence or result, whether positive or negative. And there’s always a repercussion, according to Genesis 8:22 (“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”). You will live with the consequences of your choices, and we won’t avoid the bad ones.
- Sometimes bad things just happen. God has given every person the gift of free will. We are all allowed to freely make our own choices. And sometimes we get caught in the net (trap) of someone else’s bad choice. We become ensnared in their riptide, and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
Again, these are just a handful of reasons we walk through the valley. But no matter what the reason, there are four truths that never fail:
- Romans 8:28 – God can bring good for you and show His glory in any circumstance.
- Romans 8:31-39 – God’s love never fails and is always readily available. We can never be separated from His love.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – His strength is also always available to us in the moments we are tired, weak, downtrodden, worried, mad, or confused. In our weaknesses God is most able to work through us, for us, and in us as He enables us.
- Matthew 11:28-30 – He wants to help us by easing our burdens. He wants to give us peace and rest and assurance.
There’s no going around the valley. There’s no jumping from mountain top to mountain top. We have to go through the valley to get to God’s blessings and growth. Is it easy? Rarely. Is it worth it? Definitely. God promised in Deuteronomy 8:7 that “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills.” Notice that His goodness and blessing “flow out of” the valley. That means you have to face and deal with the hard things in life in order to get to the sweet rewards.
Don’t be afraid of the valley. David wasn’t. When Israel faced off with the Philistines in Sochoh, 1 Samuel 17:3 says “The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.” The valley was the place of battle, and Israel was too fearful to engage. Then a meek and youthful shepherd visits, and he has more faith than the Israelite army. He is outraged that Goliath is condemning and blaspheming His God, and he doesn’t hesitate to engage him. 1 Samuel 17:48 says “So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.” David wasn’t afraid of Goliath and David wasn’t afraid of the valley.
And we shouldn’t be afraid either. The valley is necessary for our growth. The valley is necessary to learn truth. The valley is necessary to learn that God is faithful. The valley is necessary to develop fruit and character.
And the valley is inevitable. God never promises us a life free from problems.
What He does promise is that He will be with us – Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, 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.”
What He does promise is that He will provide (physical, emotional, spiritual) nourishment for us – Isaiah 41:17d-18 – “I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 18 I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water.”
What He does promise is that He will give us strength to keep moving – Isaiah 40:29-31 – “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
What He does promise is hope, no matter how dark or dire the circumstances – Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God is with you always. You may not see Him or feel Him or even realize He is there. But He will never leave you to deal with life alone. The only thing He asks of you is to reach out for Him. We need to move toward Him, lean on Him, and admit that we need Him.
With God, almost 10’ Goliath was not intimidating to David. And so it can be with you – when you walk with God, you won’t focus on the darkness, the hopelessness, the confusion, the worry, the intimidation, the unknown, or the fear. You’ll notice it and then reach out to God. And He’ll get you through.
So go through and know you go with God.
Marie Fremin, 4/4/15