“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.”
It isn’t IF we walk through a valley, it’s WHEN we do. And right now I am.
I’m learning there are very few people who will walk through a dark time with you. Very few. It is then when you realize who your people are.
But when we truly do walk through valleys of weeping, only the most altruistic, selfless, and gracious of our friends can survive with us.
These friends don’t get sick of your Voxer messages. They don’t get sick of your crazy texts first thing in the morning or late at night. They keep pace with you and they continue with you even when it’s really, really dark.
They say things to you like . . .
You are strong.
I’m holding up your arms.
This won’t be forever.
God sees you.
They bring you things like frozen yogurt and Psalm 84 and send you YouTube videos.
In all honesty, I can’t even carry my own load right now. It is far too heavy and I’m far too weary.
I’m rushing upstream like a salmon trying to jump a waterfall.
I have a few women who are quite literally holding up my arms, and there are no thank-yous that are sufficient for these girls. It’s all in the economy of grace. They are accompanying me through this valley of weeping and they are bringing me to Jesus. They understand the desert and they are present when I’m exhausted.
But if we believe the psalmist, we must hold on for just a little while longer, and then it will become a place of refreshing springs. A place of early rain.
“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs; the autumn rain will clothe it with blessings.”
Do you believe it? Do I even believe it? I must. I don’t have a choice.
It’s not just the psalmist who talks about this valley. This desert-valley where one can’t even have a simple drink of water is talked about in Hosea too. God says He will transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope to Israel after He has restored her.
Trouble into hope? Weeping into refreshing springs and rain in the desert?
When I’m in the valley, it doesn’t even seem possible. Everything is dry and everything is trouble, and it doesn’t even seem like the promise that it is.
From prison Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:
“Blessing means to lay the hand up on the shoulder and say, ‘Despite everything, you belong to God.’ That is how we deal with the world that inflicts so much suffering upon us. We don’t give it up, reject it, or despise it; we do not damn it; we call it to God; we give it hope; we lay our hand upon it and say, ‘May God’s blessings come upon you, He will renew you, blessings on you, you were created by God, to whom you belong, for He is your Creator and Redeemer.’”
What he’s suggesting is that we don’t reject suffering like we want to so desperately, but that we bless it. And to those who are suffering we say, “You are His.” We say, “He sees.” We lay our hands upon the suffering and say, “I understand. But God will restore you.”
Oh, friends, we need the hope of the early rain! We need friends who will hold up our arms, but in a sense, we might also need suffering. Each minute of it produces a tiny bit of glory and each minute means that maybe we understand Jesus just a little bit more. I believe that He does hold our tears in a bottle somewhere, and if He’s saving them, it means they are not wasted.
It means there is a purpose.
It also means that on the other side of valleys of weeping there are doors of hope and pools full of clear water. It means that He is there, with us, through all of it.