“Though hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights!” *
One fall afternoon, my daughter and I drove down a gravel back road we had never before taken. Enjoying the red and orange trees and swaying grasses of the prairie flatland, as we navigated a sharp turn, we were amazed at what we saw. In front of us was a steep path disappearing into a valley below, surrounded by hills and woods. A large creek, flanked by purple and yellow wildflowers, ran through it, and no manmade building could be seen in any direction. Against an intense blue sky, every leaf, every blade of grass seemed to reflect the gold of the brilliant sun above. We stopped the car to soak it all in; neither of us had ever been in such a beautiful, restful place! After that day, we often took the extra time to drive through what we named the Golden Valley, enjoying the changes from season to season and the perfect peacefulness it gave us.
Often in literature, and even in the context of our culture, valleys are used to represent the difficult times in our lives, the low points that are a far cry from the mountain top experiences that bring us great happiness. Disappointments, loss, pain, and horrible situations can plunge us into deep and often lonely valleys. But, if we stop to take in everything that is going on around us and pause to reflect on the difficult circumstances, we can often find beauty and even joy in the valleys.
Here are some thoughts to ponder:
We must recognize that losses will come but are for our good. We may not be able to see the purposes right away. In fact, we may never be able to understand them in this life, but we must believe that even loss comes from God’s gracious hand. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28
In God’s design, there is no plan B, only a plan A. Too often we are tempted to believe that when we experience disappointments, we are forced to move on to some second-best plan that God has for our lives. But the truth is that life, in its entirety, is all part of God’s Plan A, that there is no Plan B! “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
We may not choose our disappointments but we do choose how we respond to them. We live in a fallen world that is marred by both our own sins and the fallout from the sins of others. It is so important that we learn to take responsibility for those things that are of our own doing but learn to respond in a Christ like manner to those who sin against us. We also struggle with those things we just don’t like but must live with and must continually adjust our thinking, if not our lives, around these events. By God’s grace, all things are possible! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” ~ Philippians 4:13
We must really know God and who He is in order to understand His ways.
We will be prepared to face every day, the good and bad, the incredibly sad and the amazingly joyous, if we prepare by being women with proper theology! Scripture is full of examples of women who were honored by God simply for their commitment to knowing Him and to knowing sound doctrine:
Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him spiritual truth as he was growing up!
The first evangelists who spread the Good News of the Resurrection were the two Marys who first discovered the stone had been rolled away!
Jesus praised Mary over her sister Martha because she chose “the better way” by sitting at the feet of Jesus to learn truth rather than being consumed by temporal circumstances!
As we know and understand God through knowing His word, we are able to appreciate and even welcome the valleys of life! “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” ~ James 1:12
* from The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett, Banner of Truth Publishing
This article was written by me and first appeared in Dear Magazine, 2016.