“One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.” ~G. K. Chesterton
It’s not always a bad thing living in the valley, mountains surround you, and even though you may feel trapped, those mountains protect you from all the ugly, nasty things and wild beasts that would devour your flesh. It is hard living in the valley though. At times you might feel lonely, locked out from the “real world”. As you gaze up at the towering mountains, your eyes following the path winding up and twisting around, some places along sheer cliffs with hardly a foothold, your head might start to swim, and your legs might become like putty when you think what it would be like to fall from such great a height. You start to doubt if you will ever reach such immense heights.
So you wonder around aimlessly, tired and worn with your own attempts to try to climb the mountain. You fall off, thirsty and hungry, but not having the strength to search for nourishment. You might be held down with guilt, sickness, or maybe the weight of your own disabilities. You desperately want to reach the top, but you are trapped in with your failures and shortcomings. Dark, billowing and menacing clouds may gather, pouring down wrath upon you as you try to survive the gale. You cry out to heaven for help, but seem to not be heard.
Such is the state I often find myself. However, when I look around at all the other things people are going through, I scoff at myself, wondering why I am even bothering to moan about it. Yet I struggle all the same. The doubts crowd my head, make me almost unmovable, and then I cry and wail at my seemly lack of courage, my lack of zeal to overcome my troubles, small though they be.
Nonetheless, God still speaks in the valley. He causes us to look up and remember that when we are small, He is bigger, and He is glorified in our weakness. He calls us to preserver, to never give up, to keep fighting, keep running the good race of faith, and He promises that He will be with us every step of the way. He promises that He will bring to completion the good work He began in us.
When we see a storm from a distance, we think it a beautiful thing. We smile as we see the ragged slashes of bright lights, hear the booming thunder like so many cannon balls, and we watch in awe as the trees bend and twist in the rush of the roaring wind. When, however, we find ourselves in the eye of the storm, when we are in grave danger of lighting striking us, thunder roaring over our heads, the rain and wind slashing at us, causing us to swirl and reel, our lives in grave danger, it is a whole other matter. All at once, our joy turns into anger; we turn bitter, blaming God and others for the mess that we are in. But Scripture tells us,” To be thankful in all circumstances.”
What if, instead of being bitter, we start thanking God for the storm? What if we started dancing, singing, lifting our hands up and swirling around, praising Jesus as loud and boisterous as we possibly could? What if we actually praised Jesus in all circumstances, no matter the cost?
“I can’t, I don’t feel thankful at all!, “our inner beings cry out.
Thankfulness is not a feeling, it is an action, and we are to be thankful regardless of how we “feel”. Feelings passes away, flesh fades, and one day neither the flesh nor the things of the flesh will matter at all. Thankfulness is a practice, not a feeling.
While reading Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewes, I was struck with the thought that if we pretend something long enough, it just might become reality. By saying “I forgive you” (even when you do not feel that way) you might actually learn how to forgive.
In other words, thanksgiving is a practice. If you choose to be thankful, you will eventually reach a state of complete and absolute thankfulness, a thankfulness that can only come from God. But you have to start with the words,” Thank you.”
So, will you practice with me? You don’t have to get it right the first time…I myself is just learning the art, it will takes years and years, my whole life in fact before I reach the perfection I am aiming for, but at least I (and you) can have a start. To begin,
- I am thankful for my learning disabilities in math. For it makes me stronger, and because I have to spend more time in a day working out problems to understand it, I will know how to do it better. And so that I might be a testimony for others of overcoming a difficulty.
- I am thankful for my auditory processing problems, for it causes me to work on my relationships harder, to be more patient, and to listen more.
- I am thankful that I have Sensory Processing Disorder, and Vision problems. If I had not, I would not be able to have long car rides with my mom to therapies and I would not be able to meet new people, to encourage them and to be encouraged.
- I am thankful that I am a down right filthy and dirty sinner, for without sin, I would not need Jesus, and He would have never come down to earth and to walk with us.
I challenge you to write down and make a list of the struggles that you have, be it physical, addiction, temptation, or otherwise. Then work down the list, thanking God for each and every one of your problems. At first, you may only be able to say “thank you” but as you travel along, you might even be able to write down why you are thankful for it and how it really helped you to draw closer to Jesus.
Someday, we will be able to dance, and sing at the top of our lungs, willing the storm to strike us as hard as it can, because our faith is built on the Rock of Jesus Christ, and it will never be shaken.
This is our hope.
We will still grumble at times, and complain, and ask God why He would allow such horrible things to happen to us, but that is why it is called a journey; you won’t stop walking and working until you have reached your journey’s end.
In the meantime, stay strong; cling to Jesus during the darkest and hardest times, abide in His word, keep your eyes fully on Him, do not look back.
Yes, we do see very great things while in the valley, many indeed.