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Looking Up in the Valley

We are told we will go through valley experiences in our life (James 1:2). We won’t always know when or where to expect them, but they will happen. They will come no matter our location, gender, bank balance, or skin color. In Psalm 23, David referred to these trials as “shadows.” The most accurate translation of “the valley of the shadow of death” mentioned in Psalm 23 is “dark valley.” We’ve all been there; somewhere dark. Somewhere we’ve had to face our fears. The enemy loves to make us look down. He slinks beside us, whispering lies into our hearts, telling us a good shepherd would never bring us to dark places.

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David didn’t question his relationship with God. He was confident when he called him his Shepherd. A shepherd provides everything his flock needs. He is their guide, their protector. His voice will tell them where to go. No matter the shadows we pass through, we can be confident that God is there with us. He is leading us with His gentle hand, calling us to look up when in the valley.

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The valleys will test us, challenge us, grow our faith (Isaiah 43:2-3, 1 Peter 1:6-7). Fire refines, making precious metals stronger, cleaner, purer. Our Heavenly Father sees our worth as far more than gold. God won’t cause our valleys, but He will allow them. He allowed His own Son to go through the darkest valley of all. Jesus went through hell to take on all of our dusty, battle-worn luggage. Jesus knows what the valley is like. Do we trust that He will go through ours with us?

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We are told that valleys are temporary places. The psalm says “through” the valley. It isn’t eternal, and we aren’t meant to live there. The people of Israel didn’t stay in captivity in Egypt. That valley was temporary. God split the Red Sea and showed them the way up and out. Valleys are for wrestling and struggling, and God will meet us there. Don’t stay there; don’t give up. There is a way out. Even if you’re stumbling to stay the course, have faith that you are never alone, and keep looking up. When we look up, we see where we need to go, even if we’re unsure how to get there amidst all of the shadows.

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Shadows are caused when an object blocks a light source. Shadows can’t exist without light. When we begin to view valleys as discouragements, setbacks, frustrations and bumps in the road, rather than world-ending catastrophes, we will allow the Shepherd to show us the way out of the shadows. You can’t have a beautiful painting without shadows. The Creator and divine Artist shows us this every day. Our journey is beautifully imperfect, littered with shadows, but the light washes over all and tells the incredible story. That valley you’re in? God is there with you. Our Shepherd is good, and He is taking us to a better place. Draw close to the Shepherd, listen to His voice, and look up.

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Want to hear some more words of truth about light in darkness? Listen to Tremble (Mosaic MSC). Our God's name is a light that the shadows can't deny. What a wonderful promise to know that He can never be overcome!

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