4 Things God Says When You’re Discouraged

July 22, 2019

As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. Psalm 84:6-7 ESV

Our life journeys take us to mountaintops and yes--through the bottoms of deep, dry valleys. In Bible times, pilgrims journeyed by foot or mule over dusty roads and paths to Jerusalem, the city set on a hill, to worship at the temple. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit that part of the world, or been in a desert, you know how critical water is. Blazing sun above, parched ground below.

The travelers described in Psalm 84 couldn’t carry enough water for the entire journey.  You can be sure that they were looking urgently for a spring or stream for refreshment as they passed through the arid Valley of Baca (or the Valley of Weeping, as some translations read, on their way to Jerusalem.  Although this valley’s exact historical location is unclear, scholars agree that the Valley of Baca was probably a literal place located near Jerusalem.  The fact is that every Christian will, sooner or later, go through his or her personal Valley of Baca

There are times in our lives that feel very spiritually dry. Prayers seem to bounce back; Scripture fails to move us. We may feel like we are just going through the motions. It’s discouraging. God knows this. In Isaiah He said, "When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them… I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.”

Be encouraged, traveler!  Because here, God says “I will” four times! And these four things God says He will do, are repeated throughout the Bible.  First, He says He will answer. Search the Scriptures and you will find God’s repeated declaration; in the book of Jeremiah, He says, “Call to Me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33: 3). “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13) and, “He will call on Me and I will answer him,” again in Psalms (Psalm 91:15).

Second, God says that He will never abandon us.  This is repeated in the letter to the Hebrews where God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and in Matthew, Jesus assured His followers: “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Third, in addition to His presence, God says that He will give refreshment to the poor and needy. It’s interesting that we see God attending, first to physical needs, even before spiritual needs. Do you know the story of the prophet, Elijah, on the run after delivering very bad news about an upcoming drought?  God hid him away from those who wanted to seize him, next to a refreshing brook and even sent ravens carrying bread and meat, morning and evening, to restore Elijah’s strength! (1Kings 17:2-16).

Finally, God says that He is working in your dry valley. “I never would have been able to comfort anguished seekers if I myself had not been kept waiting for mercy,” wrote the Victorian preacher, Charles Spurgeon. “I have always felt grateful for distress,” said Spurgeon, “because of the results afterward. Many saints whose experiences are published could never have written those books if they had not waited hungry and thirsty and full of soul sorrow. The spade of agony digs deep trenches to hold the water of life.”[1]

Take heart in what God says He will do. Have you gone through dry valleys? Are you in one now?  Ask God to do what He says He will in your life!

Resource reading:  Isaiah 41:13-20

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, "Beside Still Waters: Waiting for Mercy,” The Root and Bud. June 8, 2011. http://therootandbud.blogspot.com/2011/06/waiting-for-mercy.html, accessed December 3, 2016.

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