“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”~Psalm 103:13 ESV
Yesterday, I took my one year old son in for some routine blood work. What I thought would be a simple pinprick to the finger turned into to be something much more painful. In the waiting room, he sat quietly on my lap, giving me lots of extra snuggles, not knowing what would be coming in only a few moments. They directed us back to the lab, and I sat in “the chair” with my little boy in my lap, still unaware. They prepped him to draw blood from the small, baby-sized veins in his arms. Then they began the torture by sticking a tiny needle into his left side. When one arm wasn’t enough, they moved onto the other side and started poking again. It was awful! I held him tight as a he sat squirming, fighting and screaming. I questioned, why am I doing this? Immediately, the answer came: for his own good, to keep him healthy. I believed I was doing what was best for him. Another thought came to my mind—it must be the same with the God and us. He sees the bigger picture, and sometimes He has to hold us tight as we fight and struggle and cry through the pain. When my little boy strained his neck to turn and look at me, I saw big tears filling his eyes and spilling over his cheeks. “It’s almost over, baby. We’re almost done.”
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~Luke 11:13 ESV
Ask any of my children, I am a far cry from a perfect parent. I break my promises. I lose my temper. I don’t always give them my best. Still, I don’t think they would doubt how much I dearly love them. If I could keep them in a bubble to protect them from all harm, I might just do it! I want the very best for them, but in my limited view of things, sometimes I mess up. I don’t always see things clearly. Oh, but God does! Nothing comes as a surprise to Him! He never breaks His promises. He is always faithful. He knows without a doubt what is best for us, and He promises to give it to us, if we trust him with our lives. Sometimes what is best for us, will take us around a problem or God will give us the solution to the problem. But sometimes, God takes us into the heart of death’s valley. King David knew that valley well. It was the valley of consequences of his own sin. It was the valley of persecution. Job travelled the valley path as well. It was the valley of sickness and suffering, of poverty and death. God didn’t respond exactly how they wanted. Surely, their plan would have included avoiding the pain altogether. David lamented, “How long?” Job wished that he had never been born. God knew. God held them through it all.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” ~Romans 8:18 ESV
As a young girl, I can remember nights alone in my room crying out to God. I just wanted Him to send an angel to hug me, hold me. Looking back on those nights decades later, I know that I was not alone for a moment. He was holding me the whole time. He must have been whispering in my ear, Hold on just a little bit longer. It’s almost over. I’ve got you. This is for your own good. Although it may be hard for us to hear, the truth is that sometimes God holds us, keeps us right in the midst of the worst pain. He knows that we have to endure it to get to the blessings of the other side. I know it hurts, my child, but just stay right here. And when we strain to look at Him with tear filled eyes, oh, how His heart must break.
What is the good that we are waiting for? I wish I had the perfect, crystal clear answer. Recently, my friend miscarried and no words would come. I couldn’t even think what to pray. So I just repeated over and over “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” and I held tightly to the promise of Romans 8:26 which says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28 ESV
There are a few things I do know:
- Nothing we experience on this Earth (good or bad) can even come close to comparing to the glory that Heaven holds for us who are believers.
- God sees us. He sees us right where we are, where we have been and where we are going. He has promised to never leave us, and God cannot lie.
- Whether we see the “good” in this present life or see it later in eternity, I know we can trust God.
- He wants us to share the painful stories of our valley experiences so that we can comfort others with the same comfort offered to us (see 2 Corinthians 1:4).
- The promise of Romans 8:28, and those like it, only apply to believers—the true followers of Christ who have accepted His sacrifice and forgiveness for their sins and put their faith in Him alone. If you are living a life apart from a relationship with Christ, then you are in a sinking ship. You are needlessly experiencing the pains of this life and walking through the dark valleys alone. Don’t go on one more day without Him! Romans 10:9 says, “ . . . if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”
- Finally, if you are a believer, and you are in the valley today, cling to this truth:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” ~Psalm 23:4a ESV
No matter how deep, dark or long your valley is, God is there with you. He is faithful! He will not leave you or forsake you!