We tend to acknowledge God when we’re doing good but forget He’s still present when we’re doing not so good. Or for some people it’s vice versa. We fall into ‘the valley’ and are worn down. We’re broke by our circumstances and our spirit is left dry. We experience periods of spiritual drought, where the closeness of God just isn’t present anymore. And these periods come in waves, in phases. We’re close with God and doing good, then we’re not, then we are again, then we’re not again, and so on. For varying lengths.
I touched on Hills and Valleys in Dry Spirit. However, the Lord put it on my heart to revisit this and expand on it in some detail. But you may want to read Dry Spirit if you haven’t before continuing. I already discussed the cures for a dry spirit. Speaking life to ourselves and others, and developing a peace in Christ that will radiate throughout our mind, spirit, and body, which will “water” us and allow other good qualities of the spirit to arise (joy, patience, calmness, etc.) much like plants.
But I want to back up just a bit. I talked about how this dryness happens in the valley. Meaning, when we are so worn out from our life’s battles, we have no energy or motivation left to connect with God like we normally do. We don’t usually notice the dryness until after the heat of the valley has subsided. We’re so caught up fighting the battle that when we do decide to check in with God, it just doesn’t feel the same. The problem with this is because we didn’t let God have the battle, but instead we trusted ourselves with fighting it.
We have to acknowledge God’s power during the battle if we hope to feel His presence afterward. We have to surrender the fight to Him, let Him take care of it, instead of trusting our weak and faulty flesh to take care of things. It will always fail us. Even if you think you’ve won the battle and everything’s taken care of, you’re still at a loss because God could have finished it in such a better way.
When we are caught in the midst of the valley, we need to acknowledge God just like when we acknowledge Him when things are going good for us. 1 Kings 20 provides us with a great comfort.
In this particular chapter, Ben-Hadad the king of Syria had gathered all of his forces and 32 other kings, hoping to pressure Ahab, the king of Israel, into giving them all he had. Ben-Hadad ordered Ahab to hand over his wives, children, and his silver and gold. Ahab surrendered and consented to his orders, however Ben-Hadad grew greedier and sent a second time to Ahab, telling him that his servants were going to take away anything that was pleasant in Ahab’s eyes. Ahab gathers his elders, who tell him not to give in this second time. Ben-Hadad readies to strike Israel, but the Lord promises to deliver the Syrians into defeat.
13 Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'” (1 Kings 20:13 NKJV)
Once the Syrians are defeated, they return home to Ben-Hadad and tell him how the Israelites have destroyed their forces entirely. They credit their opponent’s victory to ‘gods’, but think they have yet still outsmarted the Israelites.
“23 Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we, but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they. 24 So do this thing: Dismiss the kings, each from his position, and put captains in their places; 25 and you shall muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they.”
And he listened to their voice and did so.
26 So it was, in the spring of the year, that Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 And the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went against them. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside.
28 Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'” 29 And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day. 30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; then a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left.” (1 Kings 20:23-30 NKJV)
God is God of the hills and God of the valleys. He rules them both. He is present in both. We don’t often forget about God on the hilltop, when everything is going good. We can, from that position, easily say, “Praise the Lord! God is good!” But we forget those exact words when we roll down into the valley.
We have periods of life where we are high, lifted up, doing great. But then we have periods of lowness. God is present during both. We’re so caught up in our emotions that we forget to call upon God. We forget He’s even there with us. Psalm 23 tells us that God is present in the valley with us.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
He is with you in your tribulation, ever-present and right there with you. And because we know this, and because we know that He comforts us, we will therefore fear no evil. But we become blinded by our weakness, our self-pity, our stress, our confusion, etc. We just want to stand around and stare down at our shoes. Take a look at this:
1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
It says we must lift our eyes up to the hills. We need to look back at those moments of happiness, those moments of doing good. They will serve as reminders that if God can put you there once, He can do it again–and will. Stop looking down at your shoes and look up. There is hope. The valley isn’t forever. Psalm 23 tells us we must move through the valley of the shadow of death. We shouldn’t waste time there. But look at the hills in your life and know that another one is coming. You need only be patient and preserve your sense of hope.
Remember how I talked about Death Valley? How its extremely low elevation allows the sun to beat down, trapping heat in those deep pockets and holes? And remember how I explained how heat wear us down, dries us out, and can kill us? How it tires and drains and burdens us? Check this out:
5 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night. (Pslam 121:5-6 NKJV)
Not only does the Lord promise relief, He provides it. We can’t trust that restoration and rest will come on its own because sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it takes a God to pour it out. So instead of worriedly seeking a fix to our problems, we need to trust God to provide our rest. He provides shade from the heat I was talking about. He keeps the sun from ravaging you, and even the light of the moon will be afraid to touch you.
Keep all this in mind when you’re going through the valley. The heat may be excruciating. The trials and the problems of life may have brought you to your lowest point imaginable. But the Lord is God of the valleys, just as much as He was and is God of the hills.
God exists in a state of static–that is to say He does not change. Ever. He is just as powerful here and He is there. And just as wise as well. Our elevation isn’t a concern to God, because He is God of all heights. Your emotions will get you to feel worthless, like God is so far away, and they will trick you into believing you are distant from God. But God couldn’t possibly be far away, because the Spirit of Christ, the Power of the God who is the driving force behind all creation, dwells within your being.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
God is within you. So know this and don’t let the illusion that He is so far away discourage you. Such an idea is a deception of Satan, used to trick us into believing God has this disgust for us, as unworthy and miserable creatures, undeserving of His presence. While we might be very unworthy in the physical and mental sense, God sees saving us and being with us as more than worth His time and effort, as He receives so much joy from seeing us do good, and growing in Him. We must remember He is with us always, and we must look to the hills and remember, ‘God did that for me, He can do it again.’
Nothing is too difficult for God. He is God of the hills and He is God of the valleys.