You’ve probably heard a Christian who has gone through some sort of personal tragedy say, “I would go through that again, just to know Christ the way I know Him now.” If you haven’t, then hear me say it. Of course, I would prefer to have my husband here with me and know Christ the way I know Him now. But the valley is where I have experienced God in ways I’ve never (or never had to) experience Him before. Can you have your cake and eat it, too? Here, I’m afraid not. Even though for many, many years prior to Brian’s death, I was seeking God, I was daily in the Word, I had surrendered my whole heart, and was determined to give every inch of my life to Him - And yet there were parts of me that still hadn’t experienced the fullness of God. Even now, I don’t think that’s possible here on earth - to know God fully. But with each step we take moving forward in this life, day to day, we have opportunities to know Him better than we knew Him before.
Laura Story wrote a song called Blessings after going through a difficult time with her husband’s health. This is the chorus:
‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life - the rain, the storm, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
Another Christian artist, rapper Lacrae, wrote a song called Broke. In it, he accounts for the down times in his life, his struggles and pain. He says over and over, “Being broke made me rich.” But then he says, “Never would I trade that ‘cause it made me better. Could’ve made me bitter, but it made me richer.”
Now how on earth could these two people, and countless others like them, be going through some of the hardest things in life, and yet be able to say, “This is for my good”? Or get on the other side of things and say, “I would go through that again, just to know Christ the way I know Him now”?
Recently, I was reading 2 Chronicles 20. When the people of Judah were watching an enemy coalition march toward them in order to overtake them, led by their king Jehoshaphat, they stood still believing that God was going to fight the battle for them. He certainly did, literally. They didn’t have to go into the battle at all. God brought confusion to the 3 enemy armies and they all began to destroy each other. God had promised them through a prophet that all they needed to do was stand there and watch God act. The astonishing victory gave them great cause to rejoice. All of the people of Judah gathered there on the battlefield and blessed God with praise and singing. They named that valley Bera-cah, which means “blessing”. A valley of blessing.
After I read this, I started thinking about valleys. Sometimes valleys are deep and wide. Some are narrow, low plains. Many valleys are shadowed by the enormous, surrounding mountains. Without a lot of sun, green vegetation doesn’t grow lush in these valleys. The valleys could also be a place of great peril, with enemies lying in wait in the hidden places of the mountain, or a threat of a sudden rush of water that quickly floods and overcomes the valley and all that is in it. Also, when valleys are wide, flat land, it would leave one vulnerable to attacks. You’re out in the open where the enemy can easily shoot arrows at you with no place to hide.
Now, you’ve heard people talk about “mountain top” experiences, right? They’re usually ones that are so extraordinarily great, and you know they’re a rarity. They leave you feeling euphoric, invincible, totally satisfied and filled up. A great blessing. You want to ride on that experience forever. So, I found it ironic that there is a valley called “blessing” and not a mountain. Doesn’t it make more sense if it were a “Mountain Top” of Blessing? Actually, it’s appropriate because, I have found, the valley is where we experience the biggest blessings of God.
We can think of valleys in our lives as anything that feels dry, barren, dark, low, and dangerous. And that could be anything in our life. From a car wreck, to a negative health report, to one more financial expense piled on another, to a broken relationship, to a job loss, to the death of a loved one. Valleys of life. But that’s where we get to “see” the blessings. The valley is where we need the blessings the most. So perhaps it’s just that when we’re in the valleys of life, we are more desperate to seek out God, His intervention in our lives, His activity, and then we are much more aware, more sensitive, to His nearness. And unlike the temporary, euphoric feeling after a mountain-top experience, the things we learn and the way we grow in the valleys have significant, lasting impact in our lives.
So, I want to ask you a question, friend. What would you define as your most recent valley? Are you still walking in it? If so, let’s call that “good.” What? Yes, because you’re still able to get the very best out of this situation. You have an opportunity to radically change your life, or better, let God radically change your life with His blessings. Wouldn’t you like to know that you’re not going through a really hard circumstance for naught? Wouldn’t you like to know that the hard, dry, barren, even dangerous road, has something beautiful waiting for you at the end?
If you’re just coming out of a season (and let me remind you, you’re always ever in one of these places 1) walking through a challenge 2) just coming out of a challenging season or 3) about to experience something challenging.) But if you’re just coming out of a challenging season, can you look back and see that you’re different; that you’ve experienced and know your Creator in a fuller way? Can you recognize growth, peace, and calm from knowing something more of your God, yourself, this world, and other people? Or are you just left fearful of the next valley?
For those of you that have yet to walk through a valley in life, are you ready? Are you prepared? I do think we can get prepared for the challenges ahead that life throws at us. And I think that preparedness is found in purposefully going after an intimate relationship with Jesus - A daily, growing relationship which will serve as the foundation for everything else that is built in your life. That relationship will be the solid ground when all the ground beneath you starts to fall apart. And the blessings found in that relationship with Jesus are more than you could ever imagine.
So, would you trade the valley – the opportunity to know His nearness and see His activity in your life, to experience the realness of Him - for the temporary high of the mountain top? Would you forfeit the blessing, choose instead comfortableness? Because each valley offers an opportunity to experience anew the One who created you and knows you best; to become more familiar with your real purpose in life; to live a life so full of rest and peace that nothing can shake you ever again. Not even one more trek through the valley. And it becomes a supernatural thing when someone is able to say, “That journey can be celebrated as a blessing. This is my Valley of Bera-cah.”