Valley! We use this term a lot, especially in the church. You’ll find this in most worship songs and commentaries because we love and worship a God who loves to use the valley.
A valley I like to refer is a less than wished for circumstance where you discover yourself. When you’re anxious and feeling discouraged in your faith – that’s a valley; when you’re in a pit of depression – that’s a valley; when you’re stuck feeling God’s not moving and speaking – that’s a valley.
I’ve seen my church go through a valley season, I’ve witnessed my closest friends and family have season passes to the valley. I can anticipate my valley season even before it arrives and it has both shaken me and brought me to my knees more often than not.
I used to wonder why there are so many valley moments in our lives. But the reason for so many valley moments isn’t difficult to comprehend – God grows us there. The more we press into our faith, the more valley moments we come across.
The problem, however, is that we are valley people living in a mountaintop culture.
I hate to break it to you but we aren’t mountaintop people. We aren’t always in front – passionate, in control and set. We aren’t always praised and inspired and ready. It’s easy to believe God when everything is great and you’re having a mountaintop moment. But what about in the dark? What about during the times when you feel like nothing is moving or shaking? How can you grow your faith when it’s not so pretty anymore?
There’s going to be hard moments, that’s certain. That’s our rite of passage in this group called humanity. The valley tests our hearts and refines it.
The question isn’t “will there be hard stuff to come?” or “how will I bear it?” The question is, “how can I embrace the pain that makes me grow? How can I say “YES” to the tests that make me a better person?”
This isn’t to say there won’t be mountaintop moments from time to time. We get a good amount of these moments that will blow our minds off. Just like Peter had mountaintop moments, we likely will. We will experience these crazy moments with God and other people where our faith is on fire, we are consumed with his purpose, our hands are sweaty, and we promise ourselves we will never ever be the same. But a lot of times we have these mountaintop moments to prepare us for the harder times to come when we will need a faith reserve to hold onto.
We detest the valley and yet Jesus leads the way in Luke 9 : 37
He comes down from the mountain and propels towards the people with compassion and humility. He’s God. He could have easily just stayed on the mountain showing off his glory and splendor. We aren’t made to live for the mountaintop – we are meant to take what we learn from the mountain and apply it to the work we do in the valley.
The valley isn’t something to ignore, it’s not the time to get down on our knees and plea the ‘take this away from me’ prayers. I myself am a frequent prayer of the ‘take it away’ prayer even though it rarely works.
You’re going to want to go through painful stuff because that’s where the best comes in. That’s where your faith gets refined. That’s where your heart becomes tender, pure and gold.
The valley does not mean you’re in isolation and confined, it means your growth is precious to God. There is purpose in the suffering.
The valley doesn’t just produce good stories, it produces character.