Perspective, Suffering, Uncategorized

Perspective: When We Walk Through Suffering

Small flowers with rain droplets on them

@JeanneTakenaka

“We recommend further testing.”

A number of years ago, these words accompanied the news that I had an ovarian cyst that looked “suspicious.” As I grappled with the waiting for the doctor’s appointments to be scheduled, for the tests to be run and translated, my thoughts were never far from “the C word.”

Cancer? Me? But I was a mother of very young children. I couldn’t have cancer. I feared walking through the suffering of the disease. The not-knowing, the waiting clawed at me, shortened my breaths, made my heart pound hard.

A leaf with rain drops on it

As I spoke with a woman at church, she encouraged me to find a verse to cling to. I prayed. One day, as a part of my daily Bible reading, this passage became 3-D before my eyes.

Psalm 84:5-7 has spoken to me in many dark places. Goodness knows our family has walked through some Valleys of Baca.

Meme: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength, each one appears before God in Zion." ~Psalm 84:5-7 on a backdrop of rain soaked flowers

The thing the Lord continually reminds me of is that our strength is found in Him. When hardship, discouragement, depression, and other disappointments overcome us, we must choose to turn to the Lord. We must choose to ask for His strength to get through the season. 

It can be difficult when feelings overwhelm us. They skew how we view our circumstances. As difficult as it can be, we need to ask God to give us His perspective to see beyond our situations and look for Him.

We must remember His character, even if everything else prompts us to doubt that our loving Father is who He says He is.

An icy creek flowing through a barren brown valley

When our hearts are set on pilgrimage, we know we’re not staying here. We’re walking our own path toward our eternal home. We’re not stuck in our hard place. But our hearts need to make forward progress. We can only do that when our eyes are fixed on the Lord, rather than our circumstances. 

How do we keep our hearts set on pilgrimage? We spend time in His word. We ask Him for a broader perspective, especially in light of our present “hard.” When we spend time in His word, our hearts are drawn closer to Him, and we yearn to be with Him, to know Him more.

The Valley of Baca…the Valley of Tears is how this translates. And haven’t we all been there? This verse reminds us we pass through, we don’t have to get stuck in the valley of sorrow. God uses our time in the Valley to water the earth around us. He gives us opportunities to become a spring that waters and encourages those around us. God covers those valleys with pools . . . with refreshing water to soak into the dry hardened places in our hearts and lives. 

A small open area with fog and trees standing in relief against the fog

God never wastes suffering. When we spend time in the Valley of Baca, He uses that to refine us and to bring us to the place where we reflect Him more clearly.

He gives treasures in the hidden places. Those gifts often resemble the quiet confidence of having come through painful seasons and knowing God was with us. 

Peace at the core of who we are. 

Depth that only grows in the dark places of our lives.  

A stormy sky with rain falling at sunset

When we look to the Lord, when we trust in Him for our strength, He gives us what we need to walk through our current—and our future—“hards.” 

As for that time when my heart couldn’t calm down? I went through a number of tests. It was determined that the cyst was benign. Sometimes, hardships force us to come to terms with the things we can’t control and relinquish them to our Father.

A close up of pink flowers with rain drops on them

When we struggle with our painful situations right now (or in the future), let’s remember we don’t have to stay stuck there forever. In walking through suffering, we grow into a spring who encourages and refreshes others with the testimony of God’s presence in our Valley.

What about you? When have you seen God show up in your own Valley of Baca? What’s one truth you learned in a difficult season?

Click to Tweet: We ask Him for a broader perspective, especially in light of our present “hard.”

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

32 thoughts on “Perspective: When We Walk Through Suffering”

  1. Jeanne,
    I loved this scripture that you shared. Yes, the key word is “through”. I will add this scripture in with others that remind me of this truth. Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil for thou art with me. They rod and thy staff they comfort me. God never leaves us stuck. It may be a long, hard valley, but God promises that joy will come in the morning. Loved this!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. “Through” is a powerful word, isn’t it, Bev? Psalm 23 is such a hope-filled psalm. I’m glad you shared it here. And yes, joy does come in the morning. I so appreciate your words, my friend!

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  2. “Whose heart is set on pigrimage…” I hadn’t dived into that Psalm verse. But now I will! We’re never stuck in our hard place, and are refreshed by springs of water as He elevates us each step with His strength. So encouraging! Thank you Jeanne!

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    1. Lynn, isn’t this such a great word picture? I’ve actually been reading a book called, Pilgrim Strong, by Steve Watkins, where he shares about his journey as a pilgrim on the Way in Spain, the Camino that many have walked over hundreds of years. It’s a 500 mile journey across Spain. It’s really opening my eyes to what it can mean for our hearts to be set on a pilgrimage. I like your thoughts about how God elevates us with His strength. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, my friend!

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  3. Psalm 84 and the Valley of Baca is a favorite. Such an encouraging scripture! And such a beautiful “unpacking” of it, Jeanne. And the photos – so exquisite. Thanks so much

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  4. How powerful, Jeanne. God is with us, even in “The Valley of Tears”. I loved this: “When we look to the Lord, when we trust in Him for our strength, He gives us what we need to walk through our current—and our future—’hards.’ “

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  5. This is so good, Jeanne. I’m thinking back to last year …there were times when I was literally running on fumes and yet still kept going. Maybe that’s an example of how God carries us from “strength to strength”? This is such a beautiful reminder to focus on God’s character in the midst of the hard, even if we don’t feel like it or if He feels distant. He truly does bring us through the valley of tears, and for that I’m so grateful!

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    1. Awww, Lois. You had a TOUGH 2019. I think you’re right. There times when God carries us from strength to strength. It can be so difficult to meditate on God’s character when everything else seeks to overwhelm us, but it seems like we need to intentionally do that if we want to move through the valley of tears. You are a beautiful testimony of walking through, my friend.

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  6. I do not want to walk through
    this, it really isn’t fun,
    so if it’s all the same to you,
    I think I’m gonna run.
    Perhaps there is some lofty reason,
    maybe there’s some plan,
    but this has been a killing season
    too long for me to stand.
    I wish I knew just what it took
    to make the clock run fast,
    ’cause it’s hours earlier when I look
    than when I checked it last.
    “Count it joy,”, St. James said,
    but I think he was out of his head.

    Sorry this comment is so late. Internet issue, and I’m just too darn ill.

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    1. Andrew, I’m so glad you stopped by! I prayed for you all day, worried about what was going on with you. I’m sorry you had internet issues. Those are so frustrating. This poem is perfect, my friend. I’m continuing to pray for you.

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  7. So many lessons when we walk through suffering. Sometimes when we are in the midst of it, we can’t see them, but them when we get to the other side we see some of them. Suffering always reminds me to be more empathetic and to rely on God.

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    1. You’re right, Theresa. There are so. many lessons when we walk through suffering. I’m like you…I’ve seen some of those lessons after I’ve come through the other side of suffering. I loved your words about the ways suffering can change us.

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  8. I’ve gone through the Valley of Baca quite a few times! He first time was probably the most difficult, but God’s faithfulness showed me that no matter what happened, he was WITH me—which made it easier the next time I entered The Valley.

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    1. Anita, I used to pray to avoid the trials and pain. I know, silly. 😉 I’ve been through that Valley a number of times myself. And you’re right. As we find ourselves in that place again, we begin to know how to respond/how we should respond. I like what you said about knowing that God is WITH us through every circumstance, and most certainly in the valley of sorrows.

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  9. This is so full of truth and hope, Jeanne. I’m so glad the cyst turned out benign. Though I’m still a work in progress, I am learning to cling to God’s faithful character in the hard. Yes, we definitely need His perspective! Through His lens, we see so differently, don’t we? And this – “When we spend time in the Valley of Baca, He uses that to refine us and to bring us to the place where we reflect Him more clearly.” So very true. Thank you for all this encouragement! Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Trudy, forgive my delayed response. You and I are both still works in progress. We do need our Father’s perspective, especially when those unexpected seasons sideswipe us. Thank you for being such a faithful friend!

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  10. You always seem to write about things that have so much meaning for me too. That’s the gift of God connecting us. I feel like an expert on the valley of the hard because I not only spend time there but God teaches me so much about who I am in that place. I understand the feelings of not being in control but also the need to relinquish the control. I am learning that God is always with me and cannot wait to do whatever is needed.

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    1. Mary, I always knew we were kindred spirits. So many times your words minister to a deep place in me. I’m like you . . . God teaches me much in the Valley of Baca, and He reveals both who I am and who He’s calling me to become. I love your words. Thank you for being such an encourager!

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  11. So well written, Jeanne! We need these reminders again and again, for no matter how many valleys we have walked through in the past, when we descend there anew, it always seems dark. God’s Word is such a powerful force, to help us renew our minds and reframe our thoughts. Thank you for the scriptures, teaching and testimony. God is faithful. He has already shown us that when He sent Jesus to save us. When I can’t remember anything else, I try to look at Jesus. That’s how much God loves us!

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    1. Melissa, I’m so sorry my response is so long in coming! You’re right. When we first find ourselves in a new valley, it seems so dark. Thank goodness God gives us His word to reframe what we’re walking through. Thank you for stopping by. I always appreciate your words.

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  12. You wrote: “We must remember His character, even if everything else prompts us to doubt that our loving Father is who He says He is.” In any trial, this is the key, this is the way through, no matter how long the trial endures, no matter what is lost, no matter whether the diagnosis is negative or positive. God is love. He never brings into our lives what he doesn’t intend to work together for our good. Great thoughts, Jeanne!

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