No, I mean dark, long, lonely, awful valleys. Those one-way valleys that you cannot get out of unless you walk through them. Valleys that may or may not be of your own making. Valleys that overshadow every part of your being-body, soul, and spirit. Valleys that seem that they would swallow you up, where there's no light or end that can be seen from where you are.
There are two kinds of valleys. Some valleys we enter because of our own stupidity or misguided thinking. We're not walking close to God, not paying close attention or living frivolously in our spiritual life and we end up in trouble. These could be avoided, but God, in His mercy will bring us out if we are sincere in seeking for His help. I don't recommend this way of living. You won't make much progress and you're life will be filled with drama. I hate drama!
What I'm speaking of are the valleys that we come to when we're walking closely with God. This begs the question of why bad things happen to good people? Why does devastation come to the child of God? Why is God allowing this to happen to me? Am I able to trust that God is still good, that He has a purpose in this, that He will bring me through to the other side, that He will fix this?
I've asked God these questions before. And I've had many valleys to walk through- valleys of sickness, injury, and death; valleys of relationships broken by lies, betrayal, misunderstanding, and unkept promises; and valleys of broken dreams and disappointments that becloud the future and shake the very foundations that I've built my life on. In all of this, I've learned a few things.
If you are walking closely with God and He brings you to a valley, know this, He will not leave you. Take His hand and walk just as closely with Him through the valley as you did before the valley. Do not "fear any evil, for He is with you." There is something that He wants to teach you or strip off of you that you will need further along in your life journey. If He strips things off or takes things out, then He will certainly add things to you and fill you up with something better. Can you look to Him for that in trusting anticipation? Can you put on blinders to the evil and darkness that is all around you and walk in the peace that comes when your eyes are fixed on Him? Is His Word a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path?
When you're at the deepest, darkest, driest place in the valley and you think that you cannot go one more step, when you've been weeping night after night after night, it's then you need to "dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain." Ps. 84:6 Watch God take you "from strength to strength." Truly "joy does come in the morning." Ps. 30:5
Realize that "there is no testimony without a test." (D Swaggart) That sounds simple but yet is so profound. To face the giant, we must have first fought the lion and bear. The war we wage is weighty with the eternal souls of mankind as the spoil. We must be trained and proven in order to fight effectively. We must allow ourselves to be made into soldiers who are willing to detach ourselves so that we do not become "entangled in the affairs of everyday life so that we may please the one who enlisted us." Life may not turn out the way we planned or imagined and we must be okay with that. We must know that we are not our own anymore and that we can trust our general's instructions even when they don't make sense to us. We learn this in the valley where we see nothing but the mountains looming on either side and the darkness of uncertainty lying ahead, in that place of no escape except that we walk forward, in faith, with Christ.
I've written volumes about things I've learned and experienced in the darkest valleys of my life, I journaled my way through them, taking time to examine feelings and fears, and laying them all out in front of the Lord for His remarks. When I look back at all that I saw God do in me, for me, and through me; how He showed Himself to me and others; and how He kept His every Word spoken to me, I can honestly say THANK GOD for the valleys. They were hard and they hurt. They wrung out every ounce of self sufficiency, pride, and self-esteem that was in me and forced me to fix my eyes on God as my only source of life, hope, and deliverance. And in all that, He showed Himself to me in ways I had not known Him before.