I've been meditating on Psalm 23 lately. I haven't actually read Psalm 23 in awhile, but I'm studying the book of Job and the verse, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil," keeps popping into my mind. Job certainly was in a "valley." And honestly, I can't remember if I heard Joyce Meyers say this or I have just been thinking about the verse so long that I've come up with it on my own, but I keeping thinking about the words "walk through." It doesn't say- walk around, or prepare a bridge and walk over, it's walk through. We are going to have "valleys" in our lives that's a fact. Now we can try to make short cuts or avoid it as best as we can, but the reality is the only way to get past the valleys in our lives is by walking through them.
I know so many times I have been in a valley. I start out so determined to make it through and make it through fast, but then somewhere in the middle I start trying to climb the walls to get out! I start boo-hooing, crying out to God in complete fear, and say "God, get me out of this mess..." "Make it stop" Now I know this isn't true for all situations, but for me, thus far, God has wanted me to just calm down, stand up straight, trust Him, and keep walking through. He wants me to trust Him. He wants me to hold on to Him. He wants me to go deeper with Him.
(I tell you what, for me, the valley is just plain scary. Hard times are scary enough, (If you have read any of my stories about my past you will soon see that I have gone through some seriously, hard valleys), but pressing into God, being challenged to grow up, being challenged to trust Him and not stay in control, trying to break chains that have so easily entangled me and as a side note continue on in the day to day life of raising kids and trying to be a good wife is scary stuff for me. I say this so no one thinks that I think valleys are easy-I don't. The sciptures don't think so either- the name of the valley is "the shadow of death"- we don't like valleys for a reason, but we are still called to walk through).
I like the image of me "climbing the walls." I've done it so many times it's ridiculous. I get myself in some mess- hurt feelings, I get offended, insecurities raise their ugly heads- and then I'm back in the valley. I sit there, (it's such a bummer). I do nothing for awhile. Then I sit feeling sorry for myself and then at some point I realize I don't want be in the valley anymore so I get up and start climbing the walls (as if that's an option!) When I get tired of that, I start praying. Then God tells me to start putting one foot in front of the other and walk through the valley with Him. (As you can tell I've been in the valley quite a few times). God is so patient and I am so pathetic.
So, back to Job. Talk about a valley! All of his oxen and donkeys (that were plowing his fields) were stolen, all his sheep and servants were burned, all of his camels were stolen, the house where all of his children were gathered fell on top of them and they all died and if that wasn't enough his body was struck with sores, "Satan...afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head." (Job 2: 7) He couldn't get comfortable on the couch or bed, (Job 7:13) He couldn't sleep because of nightmares, (Job 7:14)--that is a valley. At that point, Job seriously just wanted to die and who could really blame him? He says, "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, 'a boy is born!" (Job 3:3)
I LOVE what his friend Bildad says to him in reply, "Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." (Job 8:20-22)
Who'd a thought? Job laughing again! Job shouting for joy! Where Job was lying he couldn't possibly imagine laughing again. His heart was broken and so was his body-laughing was gone. Joy was gone-forever. But no truer words could have been spoken. "...the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10) "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first..." (Job 42:12) And so he died, old and full of years." (Job 42:16) Joy. Laughter. The light at the end of the tunnel.
Whenever I've thought of a 'valley' my mind also envisions a tunnel. It's the same idea I guess, needing to go through the tunnel, not stopping for any reasons, the 'keep going' idea. I had only been through the Mid-Town tunnel a few times (too expensive), but since being here I've gone through the tunnel many, many times (free). I remember the first time I went through. We entered, it was fun at first, then it got darker, then I felt claustrophobic, then I saw a pinhead of light, then I had hope, the light grew bigger, then I was focusing so much on the light that I didn't even realize I was still in the tunnel and lastly, I was out! That light gave me hope that we'd get out and in much the same way we need to remember we too will get out of our valley. For me, laughing again and shouts of joy are my light. I've cried through so many of my valleys that I can only hope for laughter again.