Recently I’ve had multiple conversations about the trials and storms of life and it’s a conversation I love having, so much that it sparked the beginning of the “In the Valley Series.” It’s interesting to hear how everyone looks at things differently, what they take away from their trials, and the questions they ask during the trials. One of the most common questions all people ask is “Why?”
When we’re honest, we will admit we have all asked that question when life seems like a windstorm of trials. I know my husband and I have, and God has been so gracious to give us an answer that we can’t argue with, one that directly correlates with our lives, we asked for it. I’m not saying everyone who experiences trials have asked for it, I’m simply sharing our story with you today.
Who would ask for trials, right? Did we ask God for health problems, car accidents, multiple job losses, surgeries, unexplained sicknesses that flip life upside down, a sick child who needed two lung surgeries, relationship problems or life changing information that would rock our world? Absolutely not. We didn’t ask for trials specifically, I don’t think anyone would. Trials are a natural part of a fallen world, however, I believe for us there was more to it.
So what exactly did we ask? We asked God to use us to help show others who He is. Use, I know, that word can be seen as a negative thing, but in this instance, I firmly believe it’s an honor.
Use – take, hold, or deploy (something) as a means of accomplishing a purpose or achieving a result; employ; the action of using something or the state of being used for some purpose.
Several years ago, Jesus Christ changed our lives in a major way. We encountered Him during a major trial in such a way that there was no possible way to walk away unchanged. We were so affected by His life changing power and healing that we wanted to share it with everyone we could. We wanted Christ to take hold of us and deploy us into the world around us to accomplish His purposes. We began to see our day-to-day lives differently. It was exciting, but it was scary.
We had no way of knowing what our deployment would look like when we asked for it. When our assignments came in the form of trials, heartache, disappointments, and so many other packages we didn’t expect, we didn’t understand what was happening. I suppose we had a different vision in mind, a mountain view, maybe.
A few assignments in, more specifically the second time our daughter was in the children’s hospital just after her first lung surgery, is when He spoke straight to our hearts and helped us see what we we’re going through was an assignment in response to our request. It was a moment I will never forget.
That long night sitting in the hospital room staring at my daughter as she desperately attempted to rest in spite of all the medical equipment hooked up to her and the pain she was left with after surgery, God showed us it was in the valley He could use us more than on the mountains. We were surrounded by sick children and parents who were worried, afraid, confused, and scared. They didn’t know what life would hold for their families.
The more our daughter spoke up to every nurse, doctor and visitor who walked into her room about being a servant of God, and God being the One who was healing her, the more we realized what He was saying to us. Our walk down the halls began to take on a different view. We were in the midst of lives who needed hope, who wanted answers, who needed strength, and those things only come from one source, Jesus Christ.
Valley – a low area of land between hills or mountains, typically with a river or stream flowing through it;
Valley’s are what come in between the mountains. The beauty of a valley is the river and streams that flow through them. When we’re in the valley, our faith is stretched along that river but the stream of God’s love and faithfulness flow through us, and He always provides all we need to navigate through them. When something flows, it moves. Our valley’s move our faith to grow, move our hearts closer to God’s, and develops compassion within us so it will move out of us. Often, we don’t appreciate that beauty until we’re looking back from the mountain. Valley’s aren’t forever, they are an interval in the journey of life.
Without trials in life, how could we ever come to know God as our Comforter, our Healer, our Refuge, our Ever Present Help? If we don’t know God for who He is, how can we share who He is with a lost and dying world who desperately needs to know Him? These are the questions that God peaked in our minds and hearts that has helped change the way we look at trials.
Do we always remember these truths each time a trial comes our way? Not always immediately. Do we still ask why? Yes, sometimes we do, but He is faithful to remind us it’s not about the why, but the Who. That’s been one of the greatest lessons that have come from our valley’s, knowing Who in a way we never could have any other way.
If our true desire is in fact to show people who HE is, we have to be as willing to travel the valleys as we are to stand on the mountains. They aren’t going to be easy, but we are learning they are always worth it. It’s amazing to see how God brings people into our lives who are going through the same valley’s we’ve been through and we are able to share our experiences with them of how God brought us through and we can do it with love, understanding, and compassion. If we hadn’t experienced what we had, we couldn’t help others the way He desires us to, with His attributes. He also brings people into our lives who have been through the valley’s we are going through and they share their experiences with us. Scripture says to encourage one another, build one another up, and to spur one another on to love and good works. Sharing our hope and faith stories with one another does just that for both believers and those who don’t know Christ yet.
God is a loving and merciful Father who wants every life to experience His healing and salvation. He’s given us all a mission of making disciples, and that process starts by helping someone to come to know Christ, which means we need to know who He is first. People don’t want just a theological explanation, they want a real life transformation.
Realizing we’re a part of a mission that brings hope to a world that desperately needs it by sharing the hope we have in Christ Jesus helps us to count our trials as joy the way James talks about. Our faith could never grow without a workout and it’s a workout that has the potential to build more than muscle that can waste away, it builds God’s Kingdom that stands forever.
It’s hard to say why God allows trials in the lives of some but not others, but it all comes down to this, He’s Sovereign. He knows what each of us need in our lives to build, equip, and prepare us for the plan He has for us. Our family has learned and continues to learn there is nothing that happens in our lives that God isn’t in. Everything we face, everything that comes our way has purpose and that purpose is to help us do exactly what we asked God to do, use us to help others know who He is and lead them to Jesus. He shows us daily that He works all things together for the good.
An array of questions may swirl, but the answer always comes down to Jesus. He is Salvation, He is Hope, He is Healer, He is Life, He is Redeemer!
“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:15-18