Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Walking Through the Valley

You never imagine it will happen to you.  Life is going well.  You enjoy your job, you and your family are healthy, and you're finally managing to put some money away in savings.  You are faithfully attending church, serving in some capacity, and you've increased your giving beyond your tithe.  Then BAM!  All of a sudden something happens.  You find that your job has been eliminated, or you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer.  Life turns in a moment from an easy stroll to a terrifying ride on a roller coaster, and you have no idea how this ride will end.

As a Christian, you've been taught that you shouldn't worry.  Have faith in God and it will all work out.  You try not to worry, and you feel guilty when you do.  You ask your friends to pray but you wonder if God is listening.  Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and perhaps months turn into years.  It seems as though the journey through the valley will never end.  

If you haven't experienced an extended trip through the valley, you probably know someone who has.  Trials in life can shake your faith in God down to its very foundation.   Some choose to walk away from God out of anger and frustration.  Those who choose to move toward God find refuge and strength.

If you are in the midst of a journey through the valley, I encourage you to move toward God.  Do this especially when you are tired and discouraged.  Here are a few ways that you can draw near to God during difficult times:

Pray for others.

I know how tiring it can be to pray for deliverance and restoration day after day.  Change the focus of your prayer.  In the midst of your trial it's easy to become consumed with yourself.  Pray for your family and friends and ask for God's blessing on them.

Give thanks to God.

One of the most effective ways to draw near to God is to remember times that you have seen him work in your life.  In your conversation with God, recall as many of those times as you can and thank him for what he has done for you.

Spend time in the Psalms.

The book of Psalms is filled with prayers of worship, repentance, requests for deliverance and rejoicing in the greatness of God.  Read through the Psalms and when you feel compelled, pray them to God.  You will be amazed that some of these ancient prayers will apply to your circumstances today.

Humble yourself before God.

I can recall times when I have complained to God and made demands that he change my circumstances.  God does not reward the proud and arrogant with deliverance.  Humble yourself before God and ask him to use your circumstances for his glory.  He may choose to restore you or he may have other plans.  Surrender your circumstances to him and trust him.  Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good for those who love God.

A long journey through the valley is never easy.  Press into God and trust him through the process.  He will not forsake you.  He will carry you through.

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." - James 4:8 ESV

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