As Christians, we are not exempt from the heartache of trouble, the anguish of suffering, or the sorrows of death. Such burdens are a routine part of life for fallen man because we yet await the deliverance from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8).
But until then, we are faced with the struggles of these valleys. As we walk through these valleys, keeping a spiritual perspective and a right spirit will not be easy.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”— Ps. 23:4.
We are promised the presence of God and His staff of protection. It is the comforting presence of the Lord, our Shepherd, that sees us through. If we have Him, we have everything. If we do not have Him, we have nothing, no matter how abundant our possessions.
Don’t Blame God
The Bible says that when Job lost all he had, “in all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:22); and, “in all this did not Job sin with his lips” (2:10). When trouble comes we should not blame God or feel abandoned.
We are on dangerous ground when we blame God for not fixing our problems and it is certainly spiritual shortsightedness to say the least. Job’s friends came to comfort him and ended up saying a lot of the wrong things.
Someone referenced Job 16:12 and said that Job went to the chiropractor and that was where his problems began. I knew that was a stretch, but I looked it up and read, “I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark.” A bit of a misread and a misrepresentation, don’t you agree?
Nonetheless, times in the valley do test our mettle. They have a way of telling everyone who we really are and of exposing our weaknesses. These can be times of soul searching and introspection.
Though we don’t blame God for them, He certainly can speak to us through them. In the depths of a valley we are well advised to take spiritual inventory, stick close to God and go on. What I’m saying is: Get beyond yourself and your problem.
Don’t Let the Problem Define You
A danger for us is becoming identified by our problems. For example, if the first words out of my mouth after I say my name are to tell you about my problem, then I become Betty Smith with some disease or malady rather than Betty Smith, a joyful servant of the Lord.
Perhaps we shouldn’t talk about our problems so much. This doesn’t mean that we should pretend they do not exist. Let’s just not make them the focus of our attention.
Don’t Overstate the Problem
Beware of exaggerating and overdramatizing your problem. If we do that we are embellishing and not telling the facts exactly as they are. We may start believing our own stories and the problems will become bigger and worse in our own minds than they are in reality.
We don’t need to do this to get sympathy and to be heard. Tell it to the Lord. He hears us and He cares.
The Valley Is Not the Time to Quit
Times of adversity are times to draw closer to God. They are not times to put your Bible away, stop praying and quit going to church. In addition to your daily devotions, read the Psalms every day. They are a wonderful source of strength and encouragement.
Getting a biblical perspective will help you avoid a pessimistic outlook. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change your outlook. A spirit of pessimism only drags you down.
Maintain a grateful spirit. Thank God for the good things in your life. I’m not talking about a psychological self-pep talk but a sincerely thankful and hopeful spirit. Keep trusting the Lord and don’t give up.
Listening to good Christian music can be a real help. David turned to music when he was in trouble. I often think about this chorus to Tracy Dartt’s song “God on the Mountain.”
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, He’ll make them right.
And the God in the good times is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day is still God in the night.
I heard about a grandmother who was greatly disturbed by her many troubles, both real and imagined. Finally a family member tactfully said, “Grandmother, everything has been done for you that can be done. Now you will just have to trust the Lord.”
An awful look of despair came over the grandmother’s face as she said, “Oh dear, has it come down to that!”
The preacher who told that story said, “It always comes down to that, so why not just start with that?” A good point!
Someone said, “You should never attempt to bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three: what they have had, what they have now and what they expect to have.”
There may be times of tears. God has not forbidden tears. Just stay close to the Lord and He will help you through it.
That the Lord takes note of the sparrows that fall has often been a comfort to me.
In Matthew 10:31 He says,
“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
That verse follows the one that says, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered”!
Wow! Despite the valleys I’m encouraged and, yes, I will keep on ‘walking’ to make my way “through the valley.”