On this beautiful new day I pray you are feeling grateful and purposeful with this gift God has given us.
Ever been in a valley? Are you in one now?
If you are in a valley...
The shepherd David penned one of the most famous lines in all of Scripture:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:6)
In the Palestine winter months back in David’s day, shepherds would take the sheep down to the lowlands where there was more grass and it was warmer. But once summer arrived and the temperature rose, it was in the sheep’s best interest to move to higher ground.
The only way to get the sheep from the low ground up to the high ground was to go through the valleys and gorges that are common in Palestine.
In this psalm, the better translation for this valley is “dark valley” or “valley of deep darkness.” The valley of deep darkness is not just about death; it’s about all those trials in life when, for a season, the shadows overtake the light.
Valleys are impartial, inevitable, and purposeful.
Everyone will go through the valley, and often more than once.
Even the most obedient sheep still have to go through the valley.
Just before David talked about the valley, he wrote,
“He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
(vs. 3, NASB)
He then went on to say that sometimes that means going into dark valleys.
Righteous paths can still have valleys and shadows.
An artist knows you
can’t have a great picture
if you don’t have shadows.
The divine artist
knows the same thing is true
about a human being.
Valleys are impartial and inevitable.
The Bible does not say, “Count it all joy IF you encounter trials” but “Count it all joy WHEN you encounter trials…”
Whether they come as a result of sin,
as a wilderness experience preparing us for battle,
as divine discipline when our perfect Father loving corrects,
or as we watch everything about ourselves melted down, hammered out, and chiseled so that we better reflect His image,
the wilderness experiences come.
They are also purposeful.
The shepherd was taking the sheep to a better place.
Our shepherd is leading us to a place of refined faith and cultivated usefulness where we reflect His image more clearly. Peter’s testimony, James’ inspired words, and the Hebrews “hall of the faith” all witness to this fact:
Faith is not immune to trials;
it is fueled by trials.
(1 Pet. 1:6-7; James 1:2-12; Heb. 11)
This doesn’t mean the valley is easy, but it does mean our pain, our trial, and our journey will not be wasted. If your path is currently through the valley or you see one in your future, I will be sharing all week about the most precious life changing lessons God gives us in the valley.
Wow, what a powerful reminder of why we go through such trials in life...
while I would never want to re-live the gritty, soul-shaping, refining God did as He covered my eyes and taught me to follow His voice, I wouldn’t change the closeness and deep understanding God has given me in the valleys where the fruit is grown.
Have a beautiful day and please share how God has a grown you in whatever valley you may be in, have been in and
how you are grateful for how you’ve learned to follow His voice despite the incredible difficulty/ difficulties you’ve walked through.