“let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.” A Puritan prayer
Every human being experiences valleys at one time or another during his or her life. Even though as Christians we know God cares about our suffering, many of us wonder at times why He allows it. I’m not very fond of valleys of suffering. I’d rather spend my life in mountain top experiences. And often, when I’ve gone through a season of suffering, it has been accompanied by many tears and questioning.
Sometimes my valleys are valleys of discouragement and loneliness. Sometimes they are valleys that I’ve created as a result of my sin against God. Other times they are valleys that I’ve been thrown into (painful migraines or other health issues, circumstances at work, unexpected expenses like car repairs, etc). What matters most is not what type of valley we find ourselves in, but rather, what we do when we’re in the valley. Do we complain, groan, and allow bitterness to enter our hearts? Certainly, these are natural feelings. But God can help us past these places. He can restore our souls in the valleys of life.
The Puritan writer of the prayer above knew that God’s glory often shines the brightest in the valleys of darkness. I think the reason for this is that as we stumble through valleys, we learn more of our own weakness. We realize in a tangible way that we are unable to save ourselves or muster up the strength to fix our situations. In the valleys of life, we learn that we need a Savior. So, our response is to look up. Look up to the One who planned your steps through this valley. Look up to the One whose glory is shining through your weakness. Look up to the Savior whose grace is greater than your sins, whose riches are infinitely more than your need, and who will never leave you hopeless in the valleys of life. As we look up to Him, our hearts will grow in gratefulness for His goodness to us.
You restore my soul. You guide me in the path of righteousness for your name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:3-4