How God comforts us and redeems our valleys

As a veil of darkness covers those who walk in a valley, they risk slowly losing sight of their value. With limited vision and waning light, the sojourner gradually believes they have little to contribute or difference to make. While Evil enjoys the process of marginalizing us in times of distress, God restores our outlook and heart as only He can.

The truth about no one cares

Though darkness whispers no one sees or cares, God says, “YES! I know and I care, and right now …. someone needs the benefit of your valley.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

When we walk through shadows, we may see ourselves with little to offer. That attitude keeps us from climbing out of the valley. By believing the lie from the shadows, we prolong days of wrestling. Allowing the light of this single trust from 2 Corinthians to correct our marginalized mindset, we begin to renew our spirit for the climb out.

One reason God comforts us

God comforts us in our valley so we can comfort others in theirs. Christ Jesus gives us our lives value and purpose and hope for what’s to come. Plotting a course guided by this single truth will lead us home.

God comforts us

You may be convinced no one even knows or cares that you’re in a valley. I felt that way a few days after the United States invaded Iraq more than 10 years ago. We were living overseas, and Jeff had left the country before daylight. I felt insecure & vulnerable. All of our co-workers were far away or inaccessible. As I locked the gates and pulled the bars over the front door, I was pretty sure no one would know or care if I just disappeared. It wasn’t true, but it felt true. I wrestled with the idea that I was totally alone … in a city of millions. The sense of it pressed in on my chest like a suitcase packed for home.

God has used that valley moment over and over again to help others when they felt alone, insecure, and vulnerable. Valley cries. I never would’ve chosen it, but it’s been for my good. I know good can come from a valley, and that good helps to redeem it.

How to start using your valley for good

Right now, someone needs the benefit of your valley.

  1. Begin by reading 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 out loud. It is TRUTH and will bring light.
  2. Ask God to open your eyes to see someone else in need, instead of just your need.
  3. Reach out in a small way (prayer, a card, a smile, a gift) and then reach again.

God will use it to redeem your valley too. As we allow God to correct our marginalized outlook with truth, to reveal needs around us that we’ve missed for a while, and to give Him glory through our healing, we’ll move forward on the journey up.

Right now, someone needs the benefit of your valley.


 

Have you traversed a valley and seen God use it for good? I’d love for you to share in a comment or send me an email through the contact link at the top!

 

By Julie Sanders

Is a man the answer to your valley?

Marriage is great, but it’s not heaven. Despite the fact that a lot of modern couples choose to skip the vows and just cohabitate, a lot of women still envision married life as heaven on earth, the thing they live for (aka an idol). I’m guessing Christian women fall into this category even more than non-christian women. Throw in a few Disney movies, and idealism fuels our idolatry of marriage and sets up poor, human husbands (with no super hero powers) to be a disappointment. Is a man the answer to a woman’s valleys?

Is a man the answer?

When a woman is in a valley, she may assume a man will make it all better. After all, he could:

  • pick her up and carry her OUT (hmmm … I admit I like this one)
  • devotedly stay down there with her, so she’s not alone (misery loves company, just sayin’)
  • bring a whole bunch of happy things to the valley so she can pretend she’s not there (Amazon makes it easy)
  • speak truth to her, take her by the hand, and guide her out (he has real potential)

But sometimes valley girls put their hope in a man and decide they’d rather have ANY man, even if he’s the wrong man. That’s a fast track deeper into the valley, where the true taste of heaven will be a longer time in coming. In that case, hope was placed in the relationship, instead of in the Great Shepherd’s gifts of rest, restoration, and righteousness.

Valley girls may be tempted to latch on to a man as their salvation, their answer, their way out.

What is the answer?

Even a well-meaning man (bless his heart) is a cheap substitute for God Even a wonderful marriage is a poor substitute for heaven. Poor husbands who are married to wives who expect them to be the answer to their problems and their heaven on earth! I’m thankful to be in a wonderful marriage, but God makes it clear in His word that the best is yet to come.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Women who walk in valleys have only to latch onto the security found in the Great Shepherd to find their way to goodness and mercy here and now and in the real heaven forever. God’s design for marriage is sweet, but true heaven is yet to come.

  • Married?  Do you expect your husband to be the answer to your valleys? Have you made your marriage an idol? Are you expecting your marriage to be your heaven?
  • Single?  Are you waiting to get married to get out of the valley? Do you think a man is your answer? Are you looking to this life and losing sight of eternal life?

From our worship time yesterday, these words reinforce the truth of what’s in store:

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Let’s not expect of marriage what it was never intended to be:  the answer to our valleys. Marriage is not the way of salvation. Marriage is not the way to a satisfied soul. God Himself can provide goodness and mercy for all of our days on earth, and He has future plans better than our closest compromise.

Especially when we’re in a valley, let’s fix our eyes on the only Source of goodness and mercy, the One who will welcome us across the threshold of His home for eternity. Marriage is sweet, but heaven is yet to come. 

is a man the answer


By Julie Sanders

Fall Colors Chicken Salad Recipe

There are few things I love more than picnics, and FALL picnics are the best. This recipe for Fall Colors Chicken Salad is a new one I’ve been working on, and we really love it. It has a sweetness to it, but it’s hearty enough to make the guys at my table happy. You might be surprised by the ingredients, but I hope you’ll be adding it to your “gotta make this in fall” list of recipes.

Things I love about Fall Colors Chicken Salad:

  1. The reds, purples and golden colors really do fit well on an Autumn plate.
  2. It’s got just the right amount of sauce, without making you feel like you’re bobbing for apples.
  3. It has a lot of fiber in it from the 3 kinds of fruit and nuts.
  4. We love nuts, and while I used walnuts, you can substitute your favorite.
  5. It’s quick to mix up, make ahead, and would be perfect for a fall picnic!

Fall Colors Chicken Salad

Fall Colors Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken (I used chicken breast)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Craisins (Substitute something similar, if you want)
  • 1/4 cup of red grapes, cut in quarters if they’re large
  • 1 small apple, roughly peeled (to add some color) and chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds?)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (I like to use light)
  • 1 teaspoon of molasses (No kidding.  Just trust me. Add more if you’re a lumberjack.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the dressing separately and then combine all ingredients. Chill for at least an hour before serving, but you could chill it up to 12 hours and the flavors will keep getting more amazing.

I served this two ways:  once on King’s Hawaiian rolls as a lunch (& dinner) main sandwich and then another time in a red cabbage leaf bowl with a side of homemade bread. The red cabbage added a lot more beautiful fall color. I think it would also be right at home beside a pumpkin muffin.

Feeling motivated to cook Fall flavors? How about Creamy Pumpkin Soup & Apple Cider Croutons, Bavarian Apple Torte, or Pumpkin Biscuits or Gluten Free Pumpkin Cobbler?

Happy Feed Me Friday and have a great weekend!

 

 

By Julie Sanders