Life is a road over bumpy terrain, sometimes high, sometimes low. No one on the mountaintop doubts God's love, even though at that same moment countless others are down in the valley. It's when the beaming mountaineer tumbles down that her perception changes. Her faith is tested. She asks, Why me, God? Or, if not that, at least, How long?
Valleys are all too real. Some are ridiculously deep and wide—Grand Canyon-ish—and the only way out is to trudge across. Take grief, for example. Valley of valleys. Grieving is unpleasant, but compulsory. Circumventing this necessary human process only causes other problems.
Dealing with loss is the biggie but there are countless other pitfalls into which, at one time or another, we all shall fall: unemployment, relationship woes, annoying illnesses, what have you. Stuck in the mire, we pray. Sometimes God miraculously delivers, but more often he settles into the murk with us, providing companionship, navigational aids, and morale boosters. Imagine a Park Ranger equipped with a map and compass, carrying a huge pack full of snacks, a solar-powered radio and a box of Bandaids. He may even have a tent, and a couple of those really comfy down-filled sleeping bags. He's not afraid of spiders. Or snakes. A good Scout, he will protect you as he leads the way.
It's while we're in the valleys of life, I believe, that we can shine most brightly for the Lord. People are watching: either they're down in there with us, or are observing with curiosity from perches higher up. If I pout and wither and moan, they see this and wonder, Why does she bother with God? Look at her, she's no better off than the rest of us. On the other hand, if I believe what I read in my bible every day—that God uses all things together for my good, that he gives me more than enough grace for every good work, and that he uses hardship to hone me into the image of Jesus—then I can smile, even in the midst of the pit. Rather than pathetically dragging myself across the sun-scorched earth, I can happily jaunt along on a rented donkey, chatting away with my Guide, enjoying the spectacular view.
We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn't do them a bit of good because they didn't receive the promises with faith. If we believe, we'll experience that state of resting. But not if we don't have faith. ~ Heb 4:2, The Message