Hard times–valleys–come in so many forms. They can be obvious–job loss, death in the family, sickness, natural disaster. Or they can be harder to spot–a child gone astray, a marriage in tatters, a difficult work environment. And all too often, we try really hard to keep others from seeing our valleys.
I have a dear friend going through a challenging time right now–the kind no one would know about if she didn’t talk about it. And thank goodness she’s not only talking about it, but asking friends to pray about it. She’s walking through a valley and what she wants more than anything is OUT.
I’ve been through a valley or two of my own and I wish I could swoop in with a helicopter and airlift my friend to a lodge on the top of the mountain where we’d have hot chocolate and enjoy the view. Except . . . I don’t really wish I could do that. Because here’s what I’ve learned about valleys:
- God let’s us walk through them for a reason. Sometimes it’s really, really hard to see the reason. Sometimes you never see the reason. But there is one and it’s really, really good.
- There are no shortcuts. No airlift, no SUVs rolling through to offer a ride, no teleportation to the mountaintop. But there is a path and you might as well start walking it, one foot in front of the other, until the hard work is done and you’re no longer in the valley.
- While your friends can’t rescue you from the valley, they can encourage you from wherever they are on their paths. And that friend you’re sure has never set foot in a valley? You’d be surprised how dark and deep it was.
- When you look back at the valley from higher up the mountain, you kind of wonder what was so awful about it. Oh, you remember it wasn’t fun, but from this perspective you can even see some beauty in it.
- The valley leads to the foothills, which lead to the mountain trail, which leads to the mountaintop, and oh-my-goodness when you get there the view is SO worth it.
I hate that my friend is suffering. I’ll pray for her every day until she’s through this valley. And I trust that one day we’ll talk about it, remember it, and thank God for how He worked through it.
TO KNOW THE DARK
by Wendell Berry
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.