What makes a season a valley? After all, not every valley is a place of danger, hardship, or fear. Some are lush and peaceful places of refuge, not deserving to be labeled the “valleys” of our lives. But then there is “the valley of the shadow of death” described in Psalm 23. A season qualifies as a “valley” when one thing is absent and one thing is present:
In life’s valleys we DON’T HAVE a clear view, and we DO HAVE loss.
Valleys give a limited view
When was the last time you faced a season when shadows obscured the view of what’s to come and what’s beyond? To look beyond today and right now is to look at uncertainty and unknowns, not knowing how far or how long or how come. In a valley we can only see what’s next, and next isn’t far away at all when you’re in “the valley of the shadow.” it can leave a sojourner feeling rather vulnerable.
Emerging into new land often requires trekking through a valley. As Jeff and I move forward to a new season of life & ministry after 10 years in a good land, I feel like I need to climb a really tall tree (oops … afraid of heights!) so I can SEE what’s to come. “Lord! Hello? Could you maybe give me just a teeny tiny sneak peek of what’s ahead!?!? I want to SEE!”
But if we could see, it wouldn’t be trust.
Valleys include loss
When was the last time you faced a season when loss hung heavy, threatening to steal relief by reminding you of what isn’t and what was and what might not be? Loss has faces and sounds and memories and often leaves a footprint that looks like a question mark. The shadow of death doesn’t always look like a funeral, because it often looks like a relationship or a purpose or an identity or a cause or a hope or a plan. Our view of the shadow of death is too narrow when we only expect it to look like a tombstone, though that would be enough. Death takes many forms; our Enemy loves the death of good things. As we let go of the season we’ve been living in and move carefully forward, I’m tempted to wallow in the counting of the losses and the endings. No one gets through a valley if they lie down and wallow. What good things are you grieving right now?
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
We traverse valley seasons because sin entered the world, spreading the shadow of death into each life.
If you’re in a season when you can’t see beyond NOW and you grieve what was THEN, you might be in a valley.
In a worship service recently, I was so glad to hear the speaker declare, “The valley isn’t the end game.” After all, a valley is a route to a higher place. If we seek after God, we can be sure we won’t miss the destination He has for us. The person of Jesus makes it possible to victoriously navigate valleys and emerge as a trophy of the One who is the way, the truth, and the life! (John 14:6)
Without Jesus, the valley would be the end game.
Jesus is the reason the valley isn’t the end game.
Let’s be encouraged, for though we can’t see out of a valley, God is all-knowing. Though we suffer loss in the valley, God is Jehovah Jireh our Provider and Jehovah Rapha our Healer. Since prayerfully shaping plans for this month’s theme, God has woven valley messages throughout my life that are SO OBVIOUS I couldn’t possible miss it. I’m excited, because it means He wants to show my something, grow me, and guide me. It means this valley has a purpose. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you! For the rest of this month, we’re going to mine hope-filled truths about how to walk through the valley without fear!
A special note for #MarriageMonday:
- Give thanks to the Lord that you have a companion for your trek in the valleys.
- If your mate is part of the reason for your valley, ask Jesus (the way, the truth, the life) to change you & your marriage. Good news is coming as we unpack “the valleys” this month. Read ALL of Psalm 23!
- God can use the valley you two traverse together to draw you nearer to God & to each other. We’ll talk more about this in September.