King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah were desperate. Enemy armies were fast approaching and they didn’t know what to do. They found themselves in a dark valley of desperation, discouragement, and fear with no way out…but they resolved to trust God. And it’s in that same valley that God worked a mighty miracle…giving them victory over their enemies. That valley of their suffering was changed into the Valley of Beracah…the Valley of Praise. With God’s help, we can grow during those hard times. Our faith can increase and be strengthened in the midst of turmoil, loss, and strife…if we trust God. It’s then that our valley of the shadow of death can also become a Valley of Praise.
Habakkuk is asking, “Where are You God? And why aren’t You doing something about this situation? Our most basic needs aren’t being met. Don’t You care about us?” This is a very common response when anyone is in the midst of troubles…our vision is very myopic, only seeing what’s right in front of us, not any further. But it’s not until we can look beyond and see God’s “Big Picture” that we, like Habakkuk, can say, “In spite of what I see around me…regardless of this present situation, I will put my trust in You God! I will place my faith in You for I know You will provide.”
Jesus had answered the rich young man’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But when the young man arrogantly stated he had kept all the 10 Commandments from childhood…Jesus stared directly at him. Now Jesus could have called him out on it. He could have run down a list of 100 times this young man had failed…but He didn’t. Rather, Jesus looked into the young man’s eyes and saw his potential. So He gave him an invitation, but within that invitation was also a hard decision. A decision the young man sadly was not willing to make. We all have an Achilles heel…a area of our lives we hold on to, stubbornly clinging to, unwilling to trust it completely to the Lord. But it’s not until we surrender all aspects of our life to Jesus that we can fully follow Him. Jesus told the rich young man, “Trust in Me.” …and He’s asking that of you today.
In this verse the concept of stewardship first appears. Adam was to tend the garden. He was to carry out the vision of the owner (God), be accountable to Him, and not be careless with what he was given. So, what makes up a good steward? First, it’s acknowledging that we own nothing…God owns it all – even our very lives. We then need to trust Him completely, embracing the plan and purpose of our life and “tend the garden” He has given us.
What has a greater hold on your life and takes up a bigger space in your heart, fear or faith? When you find yourself in a deep, dark place, do you seek solace and consolation in the Lord…or do you allow fear and doubt to reign instead? By placing our trust in God and facing down our fears, He will lead us safety through the valley, no matter how dark or threatening it may appear. Our Christian walk is a long series of trust-building exercises that strengthen our faith, and reinforce our confidence in God. So that when we find ourselves in that valley and hear God say, “Fear not!” … we’ll remember what He’s done, and place our trust in Him because of it . Our faith is built up one dilemma at a time…one dark valley at a time. And each time we choose faith over fear…fear loses some of its grip on us.
You’ve all heard, bad things happen to good people…and it’s not “if” but “when” trouble will come your way. And just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you’ll somehow be insulated from the evil in this world. For in your lifetime you will have sickness, setbacks, and loss…there’s no getting around it…for we all live in a very broken world. But it’s how you react and face each trouble that will make all the difference. With God you have the ability to stand your ground when evil comes your way. II Corinthians 6:7 tells us, “…in the power of God; with weapons in the right hand and in the left.” You can stand and face down anything the world throws at you with God’s Word… His truth in one hand, and His promises in the other. We don’t have to live in fear of tomorrow. For we have weapons to extinguish all those fiery darts thrown our way. We can then stand firm in the power of God…faithful not fearful, confident not cowering, trusting not trembling.
It’s easy to trust the Lord when everything is going great in our lives. When we’re happy and healthy and all around us is peaceful…it’s almost effortless to put our faith in God. But it’s what happens when the unexpected and the unanticipated crash into our lives that really shows how rooted and grounded we are in Him. Droughts are long dry spells when rain doesn’t fall…the plants wither and the ground cracks. There are times when all of us can go through “spiritual” dry spells. Times when our soul seems parched, our body is withering, and our mind cracking under the stress… and we feel God is so far away. But if we’re firmly rooted in the streams of living water, regardless of the trial, we can still flourish and grow.