Valley of Trouble, Door of Hope
Today is Monday, tomorrow’s Tuesday, and I’m thinking of T’s. I’m mulling over things that tickle my gizzard and things that don’t and what do you do with those?
I’ll tell you right off what doesn’t. It’s a six-letter word (yes, starting with ‘T’), and there’s no one alive that escapes. The word is ‘trials.’
Just this morning, I’d settled into my favorite corner spot, sipping some fresh-ground Vermont Maple Nut, when heartache walked in.
She sat down across from a friend at the table over there. Looking at her, I thought of her daughter and the note in yesterday’s bulletin. Even now, the flesh-of-her-flesh was headed to a distant state for a consultation with specialists. Catching her eye, I said across the space between us, “I’ll be thinking of your daughter tomorrow.”
Sadness softened her features. Rising, she came over. And standing beside my table, she told me of her cross, the one lashed square onto her child’s back and thus bound squarely to hers. Ah, the sorrow…
Trials. The very word makes me squirm. Makes me writhe. Why, why must we learn this way? Why is it that in God’s economy, pain is the purifier and suffering sloughs dross and agony breaks the idols, birthing wholeness? Why?
Why does it take the desert places? Why a land of drought and thirst and barrenness to help us see? To shake us loose?
“Therefore (I’d read the words this very morning),I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There, I will give her back her vineyards and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope.
“You will call me ‘my husband;’ you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ I will remove the names of the Baals from your lips. No longer will their names be invoked.”
So the desert – the place of trial and suffering – is where He brings us, allures us, to break the hold of the false gods (the Baals) to which we’ve clung. In the desert, He woos us. He heals. He restores. He strengthens.
Only God can make a desert blossom; can bring life in the barren. Life, and a new name, Jezreel, which means “God plants.”
Oh, yes. God plants! Where my heart has been dry and selfish, proud and hard, faithless, clinging to idols, God plants.
He can be trusted (there’s a ‘T’) to bring us through the desert to which we’ve been led. The desert time is not forever; it’s not. It’s temporary (thank God), and He guides us through one step at a time when we take His hand and follow.
Hoping today in the God Who plants and brings the fruit…