It’s tempting to look for it: the light at the end of the tunnel. Because when you’re in a dark place, you might be deceived into thinking you’re in a tunnel and light is what you need. But it’s not, because a valley isn’t a tunnel.
A tunnel is smooth and straight, or barely curved, without obstacles that cause collisions or injury. A valley isn’t smooth or straight; it’s full of obstacles and peppered with boulders and crevices and jagged corners to not only trip us up, but hurt us in the process. Stumbling is par for the course in the valley. I have scars to show from my valley traverses, and I bet you have evidence from yours as well.
Why does the valley have to hurt?
If I was charting my course, I would never choose the painful pathway. Would you? But God has a bigger perspective with a longer view and a wider lens that captures more than just my life. I have a tendency to focus in on myself. Instead, God uses the hard things of the valley to steer our path and clarify His direction.
The next time your valley route leads you right into a hole or up against a fallen tree or sharp stone, could it be possible that you (I mean we?) could rejoice in the suffering? Probably not … unless the Holy Spirit makes it possible, which He can. He must.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
For while a valley isn’t smooth or straight, the very curves and dips and slopes that make it a valley create the ideal conditions for the movement of a wind. Perhaps the wind of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; Acts 2:2) gently blows around us during valley season to refresh us, urge us on, and give us the divine perspective and strength to give thanks for the hope that will ultimately come from the seed of our suffering. Maybe this is what we need … even more than light at the end of the traditional end of the tunnel.
The Holy Wind that’s so at home in the valley is so much better than light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s ask God to enable us, by His refreshing Spirit, to rejoice with expectation in our valleys.