Life Lesson 37: Despite our best efforts, discouragement is inevitable. But having a relationship with Jesus Christ…
Life Lesson 11: My dark valley experience is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God.
“O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness.”
–2 Samuel 22:29 NLT
Are you in a lonely and dark season right now? Are you feeling a sense of unrest about life? Every one of us at some point will inevitably travel through a dark and lonely place in life. Perhaps right now you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Hearing about all the bleak reports in our world today is enough to form a dark cloud of despair around us that can dim the light of hope.
When hope fails me, I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” This Scripture reassures me every time! I also hold fast to the promise in Deuteronomy 31:8, which says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
While it’s important for us to follow official guidelines relating to the Coronavirus, it’s equally important for us to stand firmly on the truth of God’s Word, that even in the darkest times of our lives, He is with us (Psalm 23:4). God’s wonderful promises in Isaiah 43:1-5 assures us that we do not need to live in fear because the Lord God will protect us. Let’s hang on to that hopeful promise.
All throughout the Bible, we see some of God’s saints struggle with low points in their lives, and we’re no different. As Christians, we too wrestle with internal woes; no one is exempt. In Scripture for example, we see it in the life of King David when he went through a dark moment in his own life. It was during that difficult time that he penned these words in Psalm 31:9-10 NLT:
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
No doubt, each of us can relate to King David’s grief and anguish of a dreadful time or a crisis that happened in our life, leading us into our own dark valley. For some, it may be loneliness, illness, a financial or relational dilemma; a job situation; some form of addiction; a death; a separation, marital problems or even divorce. No matter what trouble you’re dealing with today, let these words of Jesus encourage you: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1 NLT).
I can remember a time in my life when I felt down in the dumps and I found myself living in the valley of despair. It was the fall of 2012, I left work and drove home for lunch. At the time, I lived about five miles from the office. My soul was so downcast that day, and fittingly, so was the weather. It was gloomy, rainy, and very cold. I was welled up with tears as I drove home, crying because I felt so overwhelmed with life. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember specifically what I was crying about, however, I do remember being at a crossroads in my life. At the time, I had all sorts of emotions rolled into one.
When I got home, I sat on the couch in my living room and stared, with tears streaming down my face, at the cross on the mantle of my fireplace. A friend had given me that cross as a Christmas gift a while back. At the time, I was not a religious person at all. I only had it in view so that she would see it when she came by.
With my eyes flooded with tears, I kept looking at the cross, and at some point, I felt like the emotional burden I had been carrying around lifted. I didn’t feel alone or afraid anymore. I felt so refreshed and at peace. There was this indescribable calmness that came over me and my soul suddenly and surprisingly began to rejoice in the Lord. As time went by, my outlook on life changed and I started to see my life in view of God’s Word.
Since that experience, I no longer believe in luck or coincidence. I believe in the providence of God that through the power of the Holy Spirit, God interacts in our lives on a regular basis, whether we realize it or not. I’m learning that God is indeed enough–enough because He’s with me in the dark places. My divine encounter with God, was a moment I won’t soon forget. I still cherish it in my heart as a reminder that even when I’m walking through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid because God is close beside me to protect and guide me (Psalm 23:4). In Isaiah 41:10, God encourages us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
The assurance of God’s Word illuminates my soul and I’m reminded that “He rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18 NLT). Indeed, I was once crushed in spirit. I was brokenhearted, and the Lord saved me. He will save you, too. Scripture tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). No matter what valley you’re in right now, you can find peace in Jesus. Why? Because He has conquered the world. Jesus also exhorts us to take courage when we face difficulties. He said, “Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.” (John 16:33 NLT). We cannot escape our dark valleys without Jesus.
If it is any encouragement, please hear my heart on this: God loves you and He cares about what concerns you. In 1 Peter 5:7, we are told,“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” God knows the challenges you are experiencing and the concerns you may have right now. I’m not downplaying your legitimate fears or concerns, but I want to assure you that the Lord is with you in the valley, so in spite of all we are facing right now, let us turn our hearts to heaven and allow the God of all grace to rescue us from our distresses. Let Him turn your fear into faith, and DON’T FORGET: His Word is the greatest light in your darkest valley.
Heavenly Father, I ask right now that you would illuminate the dark places in our lives. To the person reading this blog, Father, I ask that you would shed your glorious light in any area of his or her life where darkness has taken over. Father, let Your Word minister to their heart and let Your light shine ever so brightly in this daughter or son of Yours so this precious soul can see the light of Your hope. Glorify Your name right now Father. I pray all this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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