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

My heavenly body awaits!

Last night I had an overdue appointment with a box of Dark Brown #31.  Ironically, I used to tease (criticize?) my mom about trying to cover up her “crown of wisdom.” I might need to include an apology in her Mother’s Day card.  Now that I’m going a tad (okay, more than a tad …) gray, I understand.  I understand that we are all getting older and our bodies are all decaying, and there’s ultimately nothing we can do to stop that earthly process.  A bad headache yesterday just reinforced that I’m looking forward to my heavenly body. Do you ever feel that way?

Earthly Bodies:  groaning

But headaches and gray hair are small matters. Recent news from friends about degenerative arthritis, an unknown illness, and pancreatic cancer made me long for a heavenly body for them, along with an eternity of no pain or sorrow. After all, “for in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,” (2 Corinthians 5:2).  Our earthly bodies reveal the groan through headaches, gray hair, and disease.

Earthly bodies: changingHeavenly body

I am confident, though, that our bodies will change. We are both body and spirit, and though death separates the two, we will one day be reunited and changed. Our resurrection bodies will be the glorified form of our earthly bodies. When Jesus was resurrected, His physical wounds were visible, He ate, He talked, He walked, and He could be touched. He also passed through walls and suddenly appeared. The resurrected, glorified body of Jesus gives us a clue about the heavenly body we can look forward to. “We will be like him,” (1 John 3:2).

Glorious heavenly body

I hope God will give me Dark Brown #31 in heaven, but maybe I would like a heavenly gray. I can be sure, however, that God will change my “lowly body to be like His glorious body,” (Philippians 3:21).  For now, our earthly bodies “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly” (Romans 8:23) for the heavenly body to come.

Are you struggling with physical pain today? Are you groaning about growing older? Do you feel like your physical body is falling apart!?!?  It is.  You are.  But we won’t always be.  There is coming a day for the followers of Christ to be given a new and improved (how’s that for an understatement?), glorified body like Jesus!  Be encouraged today that a heavenly body is in your future.

 Please feel free to share in the comments or shoot me an email (Contact tab on top) to let me know if you have a physical need I can pray about with you.

By Julie Sanders

After Christmas instructions

The day after Christmas can feel like a “down” day for a lot of people. Reality sets back in as the distractions of parties, gift giving, visiting, and singing fade into normal things. You might find yourself hoping the new year, now less than week away, will be better than last year.After Christmas Instructions Just a week ago, Facebook was sprinkled with happy photos of decorations and gift swapping, Christmas programs and last minute Pinterest crafts.

The truth is, if Christmas meant anything real in my life or yours, we’ll know it on December 26th.

How do we live in light of Christmas all year? The answer lies in the Christmas story itself.  Just take a close look at “after Christmas” in the lives of Mary and Joseph. Jesus was no longer an infant, the couple was living in a house, and the wise men from the East had visited and just left for home.  Once the oriental worshipers departed Bethlehem, the Christmas story as we know it was officially over.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15)

What happened after Christmas took place “to fulfill what the Lord had spoken.” God sent another angelic messenger, a lot like the pre-birth visitations, and gave the leader of the small family, Joseph, 4 instructions. We need to do these same 4 things if we want to live in light of Christmas. These 4 steps are the key to being blessed all year.

4 After Christmas instructions

  • RISE   ………  You’ve gotten comfortable here. Let go of your comfort.
  • TAKE ………. You are my servant.  Remember your job is to carry Jesus.
  • FLEE  ………. You have only begun. Follow Me obediently to hard places.
  • REMAIN ….. You have been obedient. Persist in trusting Me.

When the celebratory events of Jesus’ birth were done, the shepherds went home, the kings left, the gifts ceased, and daily routines began again. Maybe it felt like it was time to set “New Year’s resolutions” or goals for the year. Reality set it.  Just like it does for us, daily life took over. 

Like the young couple who held the Messiah in their arms, God wants us to let go of our comfort, keep on carrying Jesus, follow God’s ways when it’s hard, and trust in Him always. After we read the angelic directions, we read about Joseph, “And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there.”  He did exactly what he was told, right away (even though it was night!), and didn’t question God’s plans. Egypt wasn’t exactly a vacation destination; it was hard. What’s YOUR EGYPT right now on this day after Christmas? Obedience brings blessing and peace in the midst of our Egypt. If Christ’s coming matters, our response should be obedience flowing from our hearts as the only right worship due the Babe we just declared.

Christmas is over. If it meant anything at all, it should show today. It should show up in our goals for the new year and in our outlook for the days to come. If Christmas matters, it matters now.  Obedience is the key to living in light of Christmas.

May the new year be a year of obedience, when we follow God so truly that our worship carries on through each day we don’t call “Christmas.”

 

By Julie Sanders