My pastor has a saying that anyone who has lived a little knows is true. He says you’re either about to go in a valley, you are in a valley, or you’re coming out of a valley. Valleys are a part of life on this mortal coil. We all go through them. We all deal with the descent, and then the eventual climb back out. We seldom see them coming, but have no problem recognizing them once we’re in them.
There have been a few valleys in my life. One of those valleys we’ve walked twice. It’s one of the deepest and darkest valleys out there. But I must say this, the difference between those two trips into that valley is literally night and day. On the first trip down into the valley of the shadow, I rarely looked up. I looked inward. When I did look up, it was in anger towards God. Where was He? Why did He allow this to happen? How could He? To use the word “devastated” would not be an overstatement. It was as if the whole world had been shaken and turned upside down. It was a very dark time, and took a long while to climb out of.
But there was hope at the end of it. God began a change in our lives, in our marriage. He brought us out of the pit and made our footsteps firm (Psalm 40). He began to rebuild us on the Rock that is Christ, and on the Rock that is His Word. He led us by still waters, and restored our souls. It wasn’t necessarily easy, and it wasn’t overnight, but He was faithful. Looking back, I now realize He never left us, but rather, He was right there with us through it all. He carried us out, I now realize, and restored what had been broken.
So when we entered that same valley again, seven years later, it wasn’t quite as dark as before. Oh, it’s still painful. It still hurts. But the same Lord that met me on the other side of the valley the first time is with me in the midst of it this time. Yeah, He was there before, but now I know it. As Asaph wrote in Psalm 77:
7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
10 And I said, “This is my anguish;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the works of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.
I will remember. I will remember that God is love, and that He loves us. I will remember that His mercies are new every morning. I will remember that He is faithful. Always faithful. I will remember that His grace is sufficient. I will remember that His ways are not our ways. I will remember that He knows the end from the beginning. I will remember that He never slumbers nor sleeps. I will remember that He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. I will remember that before He forms us in the womb, He knows us.
So in the valley, I bring to mind these things. The valley is still hard. It’s still rough. But I know Who is with us in it. I remember the blessings He has poured out, and I keep walking. And when it’s too hard to walk on my own, I know Who carries me.