The battles we face are often intense times of weakness, distress, and confusion. If the events of our lives were charted, these would be the lowest points. Yet God is no less with us during difficulties than at other times. In fact, these valleys are often as much the plan of God as our mountaintop experiences.
There is a story in the Bible that speaks plainly to this truth. Israel had recently defeated the Arameans in a mountain battle. In 1 Kings 20, we read:
Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you.” Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, “Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they.“—1 Kings 20:22-23
The enemy said that the God of Israel was a god of the mountains, but if they fought the Jews in the valleys they would defeat them. We read in verse 28:
Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Arameans have said, “The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.‘”—1 Kings 20:28
No matter what the enemy tries to tell you, Christ is God of the mountains and God of the valleys. He has not stopped being God because you happen to be in a valley. He is the God of glory as seen in His power and miracles. In the valleys He reveals Himself as faithful, loyally committed to us in difficulties and distresses. In and through all things He is our God.
When we are on the “mountaintops” of our Christian experience, we can see our future clearly. We have perspective and confidence. When we are in one of life’s valleys, however, our vision is limited and our future seems hidden. Yet valleys are also the most fertile places on earth.
Valleys produce fruitfulness. You can expect there to be a harvest of virtue when God dwells with you in the valleys.
THE HIGHWAY TO ZION
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring.—Psalm 84:5-6
Baca means “weeping.” Each of us has times of weeping when our hearts and hopes seem crushed. Because God has placed in our hearts “highways to Zion,” however, we pass through valleys; we do not live in them.
“Passing through the valley of Baca…” Once we are on the other side of weeping, our Redeemer makes our valley experience into “a spring.” The very things that overwhelmed us will, in time, refresh us with new life. Whether we are experiencing the height of success and power or are in a valley of weakness and despair, the Lord is our God continually!
Has the enemy isolated you, causing you to doubt God’s love? Do not forget, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He cares. It is His love for us that redeems our hardships and not only brings good out of what was meant for evil, but also trains us to deliver others.
How did Jesus prepare to do wonderful works? Part of His training involved suffering. Christ was a man of sorrows. He was One who was acquainted with grief. Yet His suffering was the Father’s means of acquainting Him with the actual feelings of mankind’s need and pain. Because He suffered what we suffer, He is able to serve as a faithful high priest. If we yield to God’s plan for Christ to be formed in us, God will take our sorrows to enlarge our hearts. Once we have been acquainted with grief, we then can be anointed with compassion to deliver others.
Consider Joseph. He was the second youngest of Jacob’s sons and his father’s favorite. His walk with God began with dreams and visions. Joseph’s life is a pattern for many who have had a genuine call from God. Our walk with God may also have begun with a “travel brochure” of dreams and visions where God gives us a picture of His destination for us. Yet we fail to be able to see how His promises will come to pass in our lives. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and delivered up by them to die. He was unjustly accused when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. He was imprisoned and forgotten by all except God who patiently watched and measured Joseph’s reaction to difficulty.
Rich or poor, blessed or smitten, Joseph served God. He was being tested, but he continued to pass his tests. Joseph was on trial before men, but he was found innocent before God.
Finally, at the right moment, the Lord suddenly connected all the loose ends of Joseph’s life. Everything that Joseph went through would have seemed cruel and unfair except that the Lord was shaping a man for His purpose. God uses everything we go through for future purposes that He alone sees. We do not see His ultimate plan while we are in the valley. We must remember the vision, keeping faith in what God has promised.
Just as He allowed Joseph to go through many trials, so He allows us to go through great conflicts as well. For He knows that our lives—what we have become through His grace—will help others find the shelter of the Most High God in their lives.
“Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household'” (Genesis 41:51). God caused Joseph to forget the difficulty and pain of his life. There is something wonderful about the Lord’s capacity to cause all things to work for good. With Jesus in our lives, a time ultimately comes when God causes us to forget all the troubles of the past.
“He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'” (Genesis 41:52). God made him fruitful in the very things that afflicted him. In the land of your affliction, in your battle, is the place where God will make you fruitful.
Consider even now, the area of greatest affliction in your life. In that area God will make you fruitful in such a way that your heart will be fully satisfied and God’s heart fully glorified. Ultimately, the Lord will touch many others with the substance of what you have gained. In a world that is superficial, Christ will produce something within you that is deep and living.
God has not promised to keep us from valleys and sufferings, but He has promised to make us fruitful in them. Without a doubt we each will pass through valleys before we reach our final goal in God. As we remain faithful to Him in trials, the character and nature of Christ Jesus will emerge in our spirits; and Christ will be revealed to those around us. He intends to make your life a key that unlocks God’s shelter for others.
Lord, You are God of the mountains and the valleys. I know that Your faithfulness is my shield and my bulwark.
Thank You for redeeming the conflicts of my life. I praise You for healing me and causing me to forget all the trauma of my past. Now Lord, help me to remember what I have learned. Cause me to remember that the crises in my life always precede the enrichment of my life. Help me to recognize that the place of my fruitfulness is in the land of my affliction. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ministries of Francis Frangipane