Psalm 23:4 “Even when I must walk through the darkest valley,I fear no danger,for you are with me;
your rod and your staff reassure me.”
Many people are blessed and experienced a bountiful Christmas season. It included good food, nice gifts, fellowship with family and perhaps even some “christmas cheer”. In this arena of experience, even if you have an expectation for a special gift, whether you got it or not, you enjoy the overall atmosphere of the season.
What a blessing it is when the commercialism of the season causes the spirit of gift giving. Gift giving is a phenomenon that brings with it great tidings of joy, love and hope. That is the central theme of the birth of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a good time and it propels us towards “mountaintop” moments. When all is well in your world and the goodness of life is holding ground, what is the dominant emotion for you? Joy or Happiness?
Then there are those who have had the blessing of being in the valley over the course of this season. The characteristics of this season are on polar opposites of the description for mountaintop moments. However, consider for a moment the emotional experience. For anyone that is in need -of family, job, food, clothing, shoes, shelter, healing, etc….. – the dominant emotions that are most revealed are fear and anger. Fear because the needs present overwhelming pressure with limited resources and the questions “How……?, Why……..?, Maybe……..?” Anger because the ongoing regrets and guilt associated with the onset of the valley experience, plague you with the statement “If only I……..!” So then, why is this a blessing?
It is more complex to have a faithful outlook when times are good. It’s like an airplane soaring through the sky on “auto-pilot” at 38K. The weather is lovely and the flight is smooth. Once you get to that place of cruising and all is well, faith goes on cruise control. But when the storm comes and the pilot realizes that he needs to disengage the mechanism of cruising and engage his flight training and expertise to reach his destination unharmed by the storm, the awareness of danger changes the atmosphere in the cockpit. They are manning their stations with planning, action is taken step by step and there is a unified presence among them. Yet the storm is more powerful and the plane is forced out of the sky and hits the water. All of the skills in the world could not stand up against the power of the storm. A faithful outlook is required.
Fear and anger show up in the early stage of the valley. They are the surface feelings that can completely disavow any idea of faith. Fear and anger can keep us sick, stranded, alone and can even cause us human harm up to and including death to ourselves and others. They paralyze our abilities to engage in the benefits of faith. Romans 10:17 reminds us “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”
When you are reliant on your own abilities, accomplishments and achievements and the valley experience is not improved, what do you have left? I hope the answer is faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. If you are going to be a CONQUEROR and maintain a “more than a conqueror” lifestyle, faith needs its proper daily requirement of God’s word, just like your body needs air to breath. Faith in the valley begins when you acknowledge that God put you there. His omniscience prevails in our valley moments. His omnipresence comforts us and reminds us of His word. His omnipotence is the blessing I referred to earlier.
The valley is designed by God for us to have the experience of “seeing God in action.” While there are many other benefits to the valley season, let’s reflect on just how this “power” works and why it is a blessing.
When you got into the valley and the overwhelming presence of the circumstances slapped you across the face and you did not know how to breath because of the pain- faith stepped in because you did not hit the floor and die. You remained present even though fear and anger set in. You got up and continued on the designated course. Then when the odds were stacked up against you and you could have succumbed to the pressure and lost the sight of your purpose, you did not give in. You stood there, accepted the circumstances and stayed focus on the hope of realizing the goal of your destination. As the situation became painful because of the conditions you were forced to endure and your body began to suffer miserably, you persevered through all of the adverseness and stayed the course having a spirit of forgiveness for the sinister players in the matter. Then you died Jesus. You experienced the agony of the valley to the point of death. The designs of your death demanded the power of your resurrection.
It is that very design that continues to work in our life. That same power continues to bring us up out of tumultuous circumstances. When you have Faith in the Valley you are initiating the opportunity for God to have the same affect in your life.