Life is good on the mountaintops of celebration. But no matter how much we’d like to spend our lives up there, we need to walk through the valleys of challenges, too. Life is tough in the valleys. Still, there are valuable lessons we can learn in the valleys that we could never learn if we stayed on the mountaintops.
If you find yourself walking through a valley right now, let God teach you as He walks alongside you. Here’s how you can find victory in the valleys:
* The Valley of Uncertainty. Remember that every day of your life is gift from God. Thank Him for each day, and decide to use your time as well as you can. Don’t assume that you have tomorrow; live one day at a time, as best as you can. Praise God for giving you life and ask Him to accomplish His full purposes for you. Understand that nothing can take you from Earth until God’s plan for you is complete, and nothing can keep you here after God’s plan for you is complete.
* The Valley of Fear. Know that God wants to use this valley to deepen your faith. Be assured that nothing can change the fact that you belong to God, and He is in ultimate control of your life. Ask God to make you aware of His presence with you and to give you the peace that only He can give – the peace that surpasses all understanding. Remember that God will help you overcome anything that’s causing you fear. Ask Him to give you the strength you need. Realize that God will be faithful to you, even when you’re not faithful to Him. Use your time in this valley to learn how to trust God more, knowing that struggles build trust by showing you how to live out your faith.
* The Valley of Detours. Realize that what is a detour to you because it’s unexpected is, to God, just part of the expected path for your life. Even though you don’t know where the detour will lead, God does. Lift your eyes beyond your circumstances to God and trust Him to guide you well. Cooperate with His plans for you; work with Him instead of against Him. Decide to live your life according to biblical morals, and follow God in both adversity and prosperity. Count on God’s promises in Scripture as He works out His plan for your life. Cling to His providence and move forward in confidence.
* The Valley of Suffering. Understand that, because God is sovereign, nothing can get to you without first coming through Him. Know that He won’t allow you to suffer any more than you can bear, and that the suffering He allows you to experience is all for a good purpose in your life. Ask God to show you what He wants to learn from your suffering. Use your time of suffering to get to know God better, love Him more, and trust Him more. Don’t lose heart; seasons of suffering inevitably end, and often result in positive growth for you.
* The Valley of Storms. Invite God to use the storms you go through to stretch your faith. Understand that God can use storms for correcting (returning you to a right relationship with Him), perfecting (to mature you and prepare you for serving more in His kingdom), and instructing (to teach lessons you couldn’t learn otherwise). As you struggle through a storm, keep in mind that Jesus is watching and listening, and He is rooting for you. Not only that, but He is praying for you to remain faithful and learn to trust Him even more. Don’t panic, no matter how much rain falls, how loud the thunder crashes, or how close the lightening strikes, because God is more powerful than any storm you could ever experience.
* The valley of Discouragement. Seek counsel from people who are close to God, rather than from worldly sources. Ask strong Christians to pray for you, because their prayers are powerful. Bring your problems and pains to God and ask Him to empower you to handle them according to His will. Ask God for encouragement, and know that He will give it to you. Don’t isolate yourself or fall into lethargy. Remember that if you wait until you feel like doing something, you often won’t do it, but if you decide to take action no matter what your feelings, your feelings will follow. For example, if you wait to read your Bible until you’re in the mood to do so, you probably won’t read it. But if you read it anyway, despite your feelings, you’ll discover that you’ll want to read it more. Trust that obeying God will always bring His blessings into your life. Remember that nothing is impossible for God, and that problems are platforms for Him to work miracles if He chooses to do so. Know that you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you. Don’t quit living a faithful life; if you do, you’ll miss out on God’s best for you. Be persistent in faith until your circumstances change – and know that, in the process, you will change for the better yourself.
* The Valley of Confusion. While walking through this valley, don’t let yourself become disoriented. Stay focused on God, and firmly cling to Him and His promises, regardless of what happens. Be assured that even when your circumstances confuse you, God knows what He’s doing in your life. Ask Him to help you trust Him more.
* The Valley of Correction. Recognize that every crisis is an opportunity to take a personal inventory to determine how closely connected you are to God. Ask Him to show you any sins in your life that are blocking intimacy with Him. Repent, accept His forgiveness, and embrace the grace He offers to be reconciled with Him. Know that through your repentance, God can restore you and use your life to accomplish great things.
* The Valley of Sickness. Understand that sickness is a summons to pray. Don’t be shy about praying often, about everything you need, like healing, strength, and wisdom. Intercede for your loved ones and your medical team. Keep praying until answers come. Ask others – especially strong Christians – to pray for you, and let them know your specific requests. Don’t wait for others to contact you; take the initiative to contact them. Seek the best medical care you can find, pray hard, and never give up hope. Understand that, while physical healing isn’t guaranteed, God will intervene according to His will if you pray and give you peace and possibly restored health as well.
Adapted from Through the Valleys, copyright 2005 by Ernest L. Easley. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.broadmanholman.com.
Ernest L. Easley is pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., and he is a cancer survivor. At age 40 he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, underwent 44 radiation treatments, and was on a feeding tube for six months. He received his B.S. degree from Dallas Baptist University, his M. Div. Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his D. Min. from Luther Rice Seminary. He resides with his family in Powder Springs, Ga.