“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” -Psalm 84:5-7 ESV
I came across this verse a few years ago and the name, “Valley of Baca,” stood out to me in such a way that I had to look up what it meant. So many times I just gloss over names or places when I’m reading the Word, but this time was different, and I’m so glad that I dug in. It’s a verse that I have held tightly to over the years and the Lord has been highlighting it to me, over and over again lately.
‘The valley of Baca’ translates to the ‘valley of mourning or weeping’. See why I’m glad I looked up the meaning? This scripture is so very rich. Focusing on verse six, it says that when we (who find our strength in the Lord) go through seasons of grief, anxiety, desperation, etc. we will make it a place of springs. A place where life can grow.
In seasons of mourning, we have a choice about how we respond. We do not have to be ruled by our emotions, and because our strength, hope, and trust is in the Lord, choosing to see His goodness in our suffering should be a natural reflex. When we do this, not only do we see how He is working for His glory and our good (Rom. 8:28), but our suffering, which could feel very much like a desert where nothing grows, becomes fertile soil for the things of God to grow in abundance.
This isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do. Emotions can be overwhelmingly powerful, and they’re not something to ignore by any means. There is a period of time when pain has to be acknowledged, when we have to steady ourselves from the blow that just hit. Feelings and emotions are a beautiful gift from God, but they make terrible masters. We have to feel our feelings in order to heal from trauma, but when we let our feelings lead us and make decisions for us, we partner with a victim mentality, and that’s just bad news all around, trust me. I’ve talked about this before, multiple times on this blog (see here, here, and here ).
God is gracious and gentle, and most important, in these situations, He is patient. His goodness is constant, and He will reveal it as soon as we are ready to receive it. That’s when we make springs of fresh, life-giving water in our valley of mourning. That’s when He rains down even more goodness and life, and our strength is built up in Him.
I also noticed that this verse doesn’t say that when we put our trust in God we are lifted out of our grief and mourning and then find life and strength. No, it says we find those things in the valley. God brings what we need in the midst of our worst moments. He walks with us through the valley and promises growth and strength and life as we traverse with Him. The quick fix isn’t always what we need. The trudging along, the struggle, the challenge, those are the things that make us stronger and teach us who God really is. This happens over and over again in our lives. Suffering >weeping>choosing trust>hope>life, repeat. From strength to strength.
As someone who has sat in many valleys, I can tell you confidently that the Lord has never left me in mourning. When I choose to trust in Him, and acknowledge His goodness, I am surrounded by springs and pools of life and hope, and I grow stronger and more confident in Him. That isn’t to say I do it perfectly every time. Ugh, I wish. But remember, He is patient, and He knows we are going to fall short, He’s made a plan for that, too. Thank you, Jesus!
If you are in the valley right now, I pray that you can see the hope in these words. I pray that you choose to find your strength in the Lord and see His goodness. I pray you see springs of water and life in the midst of the tragedy. I pray you move from strength to strength like a child swinging from monkey bars. You will not be in the valley forever. He promises it.