This article goes out to the brokenhearted.
Sometimes life gets too hard to stand. Life’s not always nice, neat, right angles, and it is fraught with valleys.
Truthfully, I like hearing about the Grammys, but it can serve to reinforce my sorrow. Did you watch them Sunday night? John Williams, arguably the greatest movie composer, captured a Grammy on Sunday for Star Wars: Force Awakens. Adele has some serious pipes on her; it’s no surprise she scored a win. David Bowie (of Ziggy Stardust fame) landed a posthumous Grammy to boot. And honestly, this can make me pretty jealous.
Maybe that’s wrong, but I’m just shooting straight. When I’m going through hard times and rock stars are getting awards, my mind can go sideways on me. I feel sad. Defeated. I can question whether life is fair. Is this ringing any psychic cherries? Oh, it’s easy to feel God when we’re getting pats on the back, kudos, luxuriating in the mountain peaks. But when we’re in a valley, watching others on mountaintops can make us feel MORE depressed, forsaken, cold in the cold.
Remember Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus? Was part of the rich man’s punishment in hell being able to see Lazarus enjoying paradise while he himself suffered? When we’re going through hell, as much as we know we ought to rejoice with those who rejoice, we can feel even MORE sad.
Where is God when I’m in the valleys while they’re on mountaintops?
Ben-hadad and his Syrian armies jibed that God is the God of the mountains and not the God of the valleys. When the Israelites held the high ground and had strategic advantages in the mountains, they always won. So Ben-hadad criticized the Lord for NOT being God of the valley. God responded. He muscled the Israelites into a valley against the Syrians. And the Israelites killed 100k of the Syrian footmen in a single day, and the other 27k survivors were crushed by a giant wall. Translation?
God is the God of the valley as much as He is God of the mountaintops. So when life gets too hard to stand, kneel.
We don’t live from the pew up but from the throne down. We don’t dictate our plans to God as much as He dictates His plans to us. And if He has us in a valley, it’s to show Himself victorious.
Paul, who wrote 14 books of the Bible, went through many a valley. He writes that the God of comfort comforts us in our afflictions, so we can comfort others with the same comfort we’ve been given of God. In that passage (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), the noun comfort or the verb to comfort occurs no fewer than nine times. The Latin root for comfort is fortis, which means “bravery or fortitude.” Com expresses intensive force, and fortis means “strong.” God’s comfort is more than fuzzy feelings; it is EXCESSIVE STRENGTH.
He comforts us in all our afflictions. The word “affliction” Paul used in the aforementioned passage is the word thlipsis. In Greek thlipsis always speaks of PHYSICAL PRESSURE. In England (during more barbaric times), a form of capital punishment was to put crushing weights on a person until they died, which was literal thlipsis. Sometimes our heart gets so broken it feels like a physical weight on the chest.
But God is near to the brokenhearted.
That’s a promise. Asking if God is near to you in the VALLEY of the shadow of death is like asking, “What shape is yellow?” Psalm 34 says He’s especially near during times of heartache and heartbreak. Stephen got a standing ovation from Jesus (unprecedented) when they stoned Him. Jesus turned Jeshimon – the Valley of Devastation – into Eden after being tempted for 40 days when He, the Last Adam, hung out peacefully with beasts while angels ministered to Him (Eden can mean desert or delight, and Jesus turned the desert into a delight!). When Paul was in Euroclydon, Jesus popped up and cropped up; and when all had forsaken him, he said, “The Lord stood by me.” The three Hebrew teenage boys felt nearer to God than ever before in the fiery furnace (they didn’t even want to come out of the flames because the Lord was so near to them during their fiery trials). In my own life, I’ve found in my worst heartbreaks God is nearer than ever.
He’s as near to the stars as He is to those slogging through the slough of despond. So when life gets too hard to stand, kneel. The universe is unfolding as it should.