Four powerful lessons for life’s difficult days

In a previous post, I shared about mountains and valleys in our lives. The ups and downs, the good days and bad days, can be likened to the rise of mountaintops and fall of valleys. God doesn’t disappear from day to day, bringing us a good day and then leaving us on our own. When we believe in Jesus Christ, God is with us and in us, through the good and the bad.

Because we think of the mountains as good days in life and with God, and the valleys are our bad days, we have a natural desire to stay on the mountaintops. When we struggle or face pain and troubles, we talk about how we are “low” and want to get back to the good spot, back to the top where everything is better.

We are like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-4). Jesus took Peter, James and John on a mountain, and there Jesus’ glory shone like the sun. God’s presence surrounded them in a cloud and they were visited by Moses and Elijah. Peter thought he was at the highest point of living. There couldn’t be anything better than what they were experiencing then and there. So he suggested they build shelters for everyone to live in so they could stay there on the mountain.

When we categorize the mountaintop experience as the good, the best, the only place to be, we look with disgust on our journey through valley. Our eyes are always longing for what was and what will be, while we forget about where we are, who we are with, and what we are supposed to be doing or learning in that situation.

Rather than loathe the days we spend in the valley, we have to learn to appreciate them. There is no point at which God leaves us so He can avoid our troubles. God remains with and in us, and is still able to do more than we can ask or imagine. Down in the valley we should be so desperate for His power and presence that we open ourselves to all He can do there.

The Power of Our Valleys

Reality reminds us that mountaintops and valleys are natural. There are some important truths to discover and apply to our relationship with God and our Christian walk.

1.  The valleys make the mountains possible.

Mountains and valleys only exist because both are present. If there were no mountains, the valley would be a plain. Without valleys, mountains would just be tall plateau. Both a plain and a plateau are flat. What excitement is there in that? It would be like a long drive with nothing to see, and we would probably fall asleep or lose track of what is going on around us. God takes us through seasons of highs and lows to keep our relation-ship with Him alive. We keep our eyes on Him because we don’t really know what is coming, and we need His help through it all.

2.  There is more valley than mountaintop.

The top of a mountain is a small patch of land compared to the rise and fall of the valley below. We shouldn’t be discouraged when the highest peaks seem far apart. That is natural. Instead we need to cherish the everyday presence and word of God in our lives. We must keep our hearts open to the windows of opportunity to reach the top, but also appreciate the different kinds of beauty that can only be found in the valley.

3.  Life is scarce on the mountaintop, but fills the valley.

The top of a mountain is usually barren. Life is more difficult to sustain at higher altitudes. Elements are harsher and the atmosphere is thinner. But the valley is full of life because it is sheltered by the mountains. The high places absorb the full force of light, wind and rain, and then they spread down to cover the valley. By running off the top they are able to bring what is needed to the slopes below. In the same way our mountain experiences with God are meant to energize every day on the journey. His life, light, power, hope and joy trickle off the summit to infuse each moment of our journey.

4.  The valley has to fill before the mountain can be overtaken.

At first this sounds like a reason to avoid the valley, but consider some of the popular images of the moving and life of God. We talk about the Spirit falling like “rain” and life that bubbles like a “spring” of water. Though the mountain may be the first to feel the rain or be the source of the spring, where are their effects truly felt? In the valley. In fact, they would have to completely engulf the valley before the mountaintop could really begin to be touched by them.

Enjoy the good days in life and with God. Rejoice when you reach the top of the mountain. But don’t hate the valley. Our lives spend more time there than anywhere else. Appreciate the beauty while you are passing through. Grow and strengthen yourself while avoiding or climbing out of the traps and pitfalls. Most importantly, be led by the presence of God that never leaves you. You never know what might waiting for you in the mud and darkness of the valley.

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