One of my coworkers, Brenda Cox, recently spoke about the valleys we go through in our lives. I was blessed by what she said and wanted it to share it with you so I turned her encouraging words into an interview for you.
H: What do you mean when you say "valley"?
B: Spiritually speaking, if the mountaintop represents rejoicing then the valley represents trials.
H: You shared a passage from the book of Nehemiah in the Bible about the "Valley Gate." Tell us about that.
B: The Valley Gate appears in the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah and thousands of other Jews had been carried off into captivity. He became cup-bearer to the king of Babylon.
Nehemiah’s heart ached because of the many trials the people of Israel had gone through and for the condition of the Holy City of Jerusalem. So Nehemiah bowed his head and feel to his knees before God, confessing Israel’s sin and asking for God’s mercy. God had given Nehemiah a desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the babylonian king granted his request.
In the second chapter of Nehemiah the Scriptures tells us that he arose in the night and went out the Valley Gate to inspect the broken walls of Jersusalem. After the inspection Nehemiah entered back into the city by the Valley Gate. It was then that Nehemiah had perspective. He knew what had to be done to complete the task God laid upon his heart.
H: It seems significant that Nehemiah had to spend some time in the valley, which usually represents trials, as part of the preparation for God to use him. What do you think that biblical story means for us today?
B: In John 16:33 Jesus makes a statement—in this world you will have tribulation. We are promised we are going to have trials or periods of testing in this life. There is not a person reading this who has not gone through, or may now be going through, a valley.
H: What purpose do those valleys play in our lives?
B: The valley is where our weaknesses, motives, and true character are exposed. The valley is where God brings us to our knees. God uses the valley to mature and grow us. The valley is where we are broken so God can build us back into what He wants us to be. We then can come back through the Valley Gate with a changed perspective—now able to yield more fruit and do Kingdom work.
H: What do we gain from the valley?
B: The soil in the valley is rich and that’s where the best fruit grows. We love mountaintops but not much grows on the peaks. And one thing is certain in geography, you can’t get to the top of the mountain without first making your way through the valley.
H: How do you think we should deal with the valleys in our lives?
B: I think it boils down to three precepts:
First, we need to remember that God is sovereign. Proverbs 3:6 says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Second, we need to continue to take our valleys to God in prayer. Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."
Finally, we need to stay in God’s Word. The Holy Spirit teaches us, encourages us, refreshes us, reassures us, and strengthens our faith through the reading of God’s Word.In Matthew 24:35 Jesus says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away."
H: I loved what you said about valleys, "Geographically speaking, the higher the mountaintop the deeper the valley." You’ve shown us the same is often true of the valleys in our lives. We don’t like going through difficult times, but sometimes God uses them to lead us to greater blessings than ever before.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Brenda.
What valley are you in right now and what has God been teaching you? I’d love to hear from you…