“Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.” Billy Graham
When I read this quote from Billy Graham, I remembered an experience I had some days ago with some friends, we took a few minutes to view the City from the top of K.I.C.C building. We wanted to see what Nairobi looks like from the top and it was such an awesome experience- trust me, up there we had a very good view. This makes me understand Billy Graham better when he says that mountaintops are for views and inspiration- when you are at the top you feel empowered, you have a great view of life and even people and who does not get inspired by greatness? We all pray earnestly to get to the top: to get jobs, or to be the best in performance in the ministries we serve in, or to be the leader everyone grants respect, our families’ wealth and health to be overflowing, our relationships to be all good and perfect without conflicts, our service to be appreciated and everything to just be “on top!” Top is sweet right? When we are at the “top” we are all inspired to do more, in common terms we can say that Life is fair at the top! We are actually getting what we deserve.
Billy Graham went ahead to say that ‘fruits grow in the Valley.’ We all love fruits, I personally love fruits, but Valleys… nay! I even do not like very ‘small valleys’ common in Nairobi roads-‘potholes’ they are seriously annoying- sometimes if only the government would do something to those potholes, they bring unnecessary delay on the road when am in a rush to get to ‘the top’, they make me uncomfortable and perhaps I wanted to enjoy the trip in a sweet moment of sleep, they bring wear and tear unnecessarily to vehicles- I mean this are just ‘small valleys’ but really their effects seem very magnified in my mind. I would never think that they can bring in anything positive- like fruits. Valleys and mountaintops in our lives… if I was given an option to choose- I definitely would choose mountaintops. I would love to have a good view of the top and get inspired, but the beauty of Life is a mix of both. I thank God we have no freedom to choose because in His own wisdom He allows ‘valleys’ in our lives for fruits to grow. It is in the valleys we complain, cry, feel lonely and forgotten, and so on, they just are not interesting at all. I have had my own share of valleys in my life and in those seasons I felt less empowered, less inspired and almost I was not able to view anything from the valley but I have grown! I have picked worthwhile lessons about God, myself and life in the valleys. Praise the Lord!
Here are some worthwhile lessons & Insights that I have gained as fruit in the valleys:
- Remember that God’s Love never fails- circumstances & people change, you will be forgotten, perhaps even very significant people at that time will fail to notice your struggle or even may seem not to understand the depth of it at all and that even hurts more! But we need to remember that there is a Love that never fails us, it is perfect and if we cling to this truth it changes our perspective in the valley. Once you are able to appreciate that you are dearly Loved, it energizes you. We need an anchor in our storms and the sad truth is it cannot be on situations or people, they change, we need a safer place and Jesus is! “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. It is true God loves us so much that absolutely nothing can get in the way of His love for us. Nothing we’ve done in the past, no character flaw you think you have, no choices you’ve made – absolutely nothing. It is permanent, accept it and feel it!
- Shift your Focus- In depressing times we need to shift our focus and put our Hope in the Lord. In most times, you may feel that it is impossible to be okay again, but that happens when your hope is still in the circumstances, point them to the Lord and trust Him. You certainly cannot Love God and fail to trust Him at the same time. Trust that God has a plan. God doesn’t just allow us to go through tough times and hard trials for no reason. Instead, He allows some negative things in our lives now because He knows that, through them, He can ultimately bring about more good in our lives and in the lives of others later(Fruits!). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11. When I really Love God, I also know He cannot bring me harm- at least am certain of His love. In valley moments we mostly don’t understand Him, and the reason is because He is God and we are not. I also don’t get to understand God sometimes and that is okay- I am really not supposed to. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to serve a God who is small enough to be understood by me(the way I am), I serve a God whose ways are not my ways, mysterious for me to grasp His ways but yet loves me so dearly that I can trust all His ways are for my good. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:9. (He is God!)
- Pray! Do not surrender the art of praying without ceasing- You may not feel like it but I have personally learned that in the valley, Prayer upholds me, it humbles me enough to appreciate the fact that I cannot save myself from the valley and brings me to a point of accepting how limited my power is to recognizing a God who is all sufficient. Prayer also provides a safe place to be vulnerable before God- a safe place to confess my frustrations from people & circumstances, sin and doubts; say how I really feel without the fear of being misunderstood. It is through prayer that I also get to hear God’s voice about my situation, I am able to pour my heart and He tells me His, or He assures me that He will carry me through and affirms my faith. We may not get the answers we need but we receive all the comfort in the storm- Let us therefore pray without ceasing at all times.
- Pray for other people- This is something God taught me sometimes back, I was so broken, I had nothing to hold onto except God and I was unable to work/study so I decided to retreat to pray. As I was in that matatu, trying to control my tears from flowing(which they still did), God asked me to pray for certain people once I get to my place of prayer! Frankly, I was shocked- how could I pray for people when am the only person they need to be praying for? Well, I chose obedience and I went and knelt down and I started to intercede for people God was prompting me to pray for. After a while I was able to get what God wanted me to learn; without mentioning myself or what concerned me I felt so much peace in my heart and immediately it was clear that over the weeks I had gotten so engrossed in myself to a point I had made myself the center of the world and I acted in ignorance over what other people could be going through, and that had made my situation even more worse because I thought everyone was celebrating when am mourning- I didn’t think they had issues or needed prayer just like I did. I got to know that it is easy to think that no one cares about you when you are in the valley and honestly you also do not care about them either since according to you, every attention should be directed your way ignoring the fact that friends need you too, in some cases people could be passing through even bigger situations than yourself but the cry to become the center of attention makes us blind of what is happening around us that is seeking us to step up and give support to our friends! God could be asking us to use our struggles to encourage someone- I talked to someone in that season and I noticed she was going through the same situation but in a more deeper way than I was and I understood her and I offered her encouragement & Prayer. That day God was so blunt with me and He was kinda asking me ‘could you just pause thinking about yourself just for a moment and think about someone else?’ I did, and it became my place of ministry and I felt healed. I also got to understand that I am not the only person who is in the valley, I should be discerning and loving enough to stretch out my hand and hold a friend in the valley and we walk more stronger together. I learned that Christ is always calling me to Love people through my struggles.
- Enjoy God’s rest in the Valley- Valley moments do not have a lot of activities, life might seem just flat, nothing to look forward to which could be caused by the fact that you do not want to engage with a lot of people or go out to join in activities. which could be an important part for your healing-enjoy it, it will not bring you smiles and happiness in the sense the word ‘enjoy’ implies but you can rest in it and trust Him. When you start complaining you always tend to linger there more but you can ask God in that season to help you tap the lessons instead of spending the ‘lonely’ times crying and complaining. While at it you can find out something you can practically do that could be new/refreshing, some of us who happen to be full of activities might have to take time to sleep better, journal the lessons God is giving you, visit with family, go for swimming, learn a new sport etc- just do something, the fact that you are in the valley does not mean that your life has come to an end therefore stop acting like you are just waiting for the rapture to take place. Be deliberate to do something that does not look any related to your stress, if possible seek out help of a friend to do this. I also learned to trust people to help me out and that I need a hand to help me rise out of the valley- the Lord is faithful, He can bring sincere help our way if we are willing to be helped, I had to notice it is if I am willing to be helped.
- Beware of how you handle people- I had mentioned that when you are in the valley, you tend to make yourself the center of attention, therefore it is so easy to hurt people, it is so easy to throw negative tantrums at people and expect them to understand you and then you feel justified to mess around with friendships and then massage your ego by telling yourself that even God understands you are hurt. There is no excuse to hurt people, none whatsoever, actually it is in such moments our pride and selfishness is laid bare in our eyes like red scarlet, repent for it and mend your ways. Do not allow difficult moments to mess with your friendships because you will notice it is more harder to go through the valley alone, no one likes to be mistreated, so people will be hurt and they will close doors for you and it will be really difficult on your end, you will painfully watch friendships you have destroyed move on with their lives as if you never existed and that will hurt you more- it is not that they do not care about you, its simply because you used your hurt to hurt them in turn. You can ask for their forgiveness without excusing yourself because you were hurting and that humbles you and restores the friendship or you can encourage your pride and in turn cause more pain to people and to yourself. In my journey through life God has taught me that the other next important aspect after Him is His people, people are very important and you should not allow a season that is soon coming to an end eliminate people from your life, we always need them back and it will be more difficult to restore the relationships then.
- Forgive!- Valleys can be caused by people and for us to heal we must ask God to help us to grow in forgiveness. It does not come as easy and we certainly need God’s grace to do it, ask Him. We are forgiven people ourselves, we need to allow God to teach us and take us through the process of forgiving other people too. They may not deserve your forgiveness because of the magnitude of their actions, just like us, we did not deserve God’s mercy but He still forgave us. Help us God!
- Evaluate your social media actions- Sometimes I log into Facebook and it asks me the question, what is on your mind? And honestly I sometimes want to ask Facebook if it can really handle what is on my mind! We are the social media generation and there is freedom to post and share what exactly is on our minds, our feelings and truth be told- Social media cannot handle what is on our minds so why should ‘I tell it’? We can seek sympathy from followers and we can also use it to attack the people who have wronged us but it gives us no solutions to our problems. Only Jesus can solve what is on your mind. We therefore need to do some heart checks before we post on social media, especially when we are going through a valley season;1. Will this post be honoring to God? “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31. Do you think that post will glorify God or will it be to gratify your own desires?2. Will this post build up those who see it?- Including the people who have hurt you. “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.” Ephesians 4:2.
Finally, my comfort in suffering is always this: that the Promises of God preserves my Life, (Psalms 119:50).
(And my God will supply all my needs According to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus), Phillipians 4:19.
I never walk alone!- He is with me in the Valley- Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
That is My Kind of God! He Loves me enough to take me through Valley experiences to make me fruity! I can only trust Him. Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Jesus, Our Anchor in the Valley!