“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?