A few years ago, I went downstairs to our guest room to spruce it up for our out-of-town company who’d be arriving later that day.
Now, if you’re new to the 4:13 Podcast, this is a good time to tell you that I’m blind. I lost the majority of my sight as a teenager because of a degenerative disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Over the years, blindness has been hard, but at this point in time, I still had a little bit of light perception in my left eye. While it wasn’t enough to function, it gave me a reprieve from total darkness. I could tell when it was daylight. And, if I got close to a lamp, I could usually know if it was on or not.
So, as I walked into the room and turned on the two little lamps on the dresser, I expected to detect light.
But … I didn’t. Not this time.
I placed my hand on one of the bulbs to make sure it was working. It was warm. If the lamp was on, the problem wasn’t the light bulb.
My heart sank when it hit me.
This could only mean one thing—the few fragments of retina I once had in my left eye were now gone. I suddenly felt trapped in a claustrophobic cave, overwhelmed by dread and loss.
My eyes welled up with tears, and my throat tightened. I didn’t know how to put into words what I felt.
Grief. Disappointment. Fear. Loneliness.
It was as if I had stepped into a long, dark valley, and I felt a level of aloneness that I had not felt before.
Oh, friend, we’ve all been in that place, that situation, that heartache, or that trial where we feel utterly alone. There is just something about those valley times in our lives that bring out our fear and our sense of isolation.
You may be in a valley right now. It might be illness and loss, or betrayal and rejection. It could be financial. But, even if you feel alone, you are not alone.
On this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I share how when your valley gets dark, Psalm 23:4 tells us that God gets personal. We also look at a second valley found in Psalm 84:5 and give you two ways this passage shows you how to get through your valley.
2 Ways to Get Through Your Valley
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5)
- You make the Lord your strength. After realizing I could no longer detect light, I remember standing in front of that dresser for what felt like hours. I just stayed in that room, in that place in my heart, and got still before God. I made Him my strength. And, as I did, I began to feel His comfort, His love, His empathy, and His compassion. His presence made me feel less alone.
When you try to draw strength from your personality, your drive, or your experience, you’ll faint in the valley. But, when you look to God for strength, He doesn’t just lend you strength and then take it back at the end of the day. He actually becomes strength to you.
In a practical sense, what does it look like for you to make God your strength? You do it by being still. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” When you make God your strength, you get still and rest your whole self on Him.
If you are in a valley right now, you may be in panic mode and frantically looking for an exit. But instead of running fast through your valley, take at least five minutes every day to be still with your Shepherd. Read Scripture out loud because when you speak His Word and hear His Word it requires that you are still and focused. And, when you are focusing on quoting Scripture, you can’t focus on your valley.
So, in the hard middle of your valley, be still so you can know God is with you and is strengthening you.
- Set your heart on pilgrimage. Several years ago, I thought it would be fun for our family to explore Marvel Cave. But, as we waited in line, my husband, Phil, started reading me all of the disclaimer signs. One sign in particular said, “If you have claustrophobia, you shouldn’t enter this cave.”
What you may not know about me is that, even though I’m blind and I can’t see the tight spaces around me, I’m highly claustrophobic. But, at the same time, I don’t like to accept that “I can’t” do something. If there’s one thing I’ve taught my kids, it’s that we don’t say, “I can’t.” So, we decided to still tour the cave.
It didn’t take long for me to realize, though, that those signs had been 100% correct! As the pathways narrowed and my claustrophobia kicked in, I found myself singing in order to get through the cave. I knew I wouldn’t be down there forever, but I did have to pass through it until we came out.
Just like the cave wasn’t forever, your valley isn’t permanent. In Psalm 23:4, David writes, “As I walk through the valley…” You get through your valley by walking through it. You set your heart on pilgrimage. And, one way you can do is sing praise through your valley, much like I did as I walked through the cave.
God inhabits, resides in, is present in, and is situated within your praise (Psalm 22:3). You don’t have to be a good singer or a loud singer. But, when you sing, your every note builds a throne and God rushes in to sit on it.
But the reason you sing praises isn’t just for Him. It’s also for you. Research shows that when you sing, you release the pleasure hormones called endorphins, as well as oxytocin, which is a chemical that’s associated with alleviating anxiety. There are biological and psychological benefits to singing.
So, sing in your valley because He’s with you in the valley. Worship is the way you draw near to God.
Sometimes we can’t see clearly the lessons and how deeply we are loved and cared for while we are navigating the valley. Sometimes we have to get through it to understand it and what we got from it.
So, if you are in the dark middle of your valley, don’t try to come up with some grand lesson or insight if you don’t have one. Just rest in your Shepherd. Let Him carry you through. Take time to be still and sing.
You will get through this. Your valley will not last forever, but God’s faithfulness will. So, walk on, woman of faith!
And remember, wherever you are, however you feel, you are not alone. Because He is with you and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Bible Studies and Encouraging Gifts by Jennifer Rothschild
- Psalm 23: The Shepherd With Me Bible Study
- “I Am Safe With My Shepherd” Declaration Cards
- “Safe” Necklace
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How have you made the Lord your strength in the hard middle of a valley?