3rd November 2017

Week Of Prayer - Day 5

 

Every valley has a story

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 (NKJV)

A Kenyan tribal women looking into the distance

A funeral psalm?

Psalm 23 is commonly used at funerals. The words are used to help personalise the listener’s relationship with God, and paint Him as comforting and nurturing.

‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me’ gives mourners a sense of hope in a time of darkness and loss.

For Christians, the words ‘I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever’ remind us of the promise of eternal life after death.

The evangelist Luis Palau, however, believes Psalm 23 is better suited to dealing with present, worldly matters rather than with death.

As Christians, we are not exempt from trials and tribulations – we all go through different seasons in life.

Sometimes life is great and everything is going well. Then there are other times when life is hard and we struggle to see beyond our dispiriting situation. We have mountaintop moments and we have valley moments.

The reality is that there is always a valley between two mountains. We reach a mountaintop experience and live there for a while, but when a wind of defeat or discouragement comes, it blows us right down to the bottom of the mountain again.

A charmed life?

King David didn’t have a quiet life. He became a soldier in his adolescence, spent much of his life on the run and, as king, struggled both politically and spiritually.

He failed in his relationships with his wife Michal, sons and contemporaries. His personal life was fraught – full of pain and difficulty. One son died at birth, another grew up to rape his sister, which led to yet another son killing him for it.

David knew what the valley was like. But, as we see from Psalm 23, he recognised that God was in the valley with him.

The truth is that every valley moment has a story that God will use to bring life and revelation. If we let Him, God will use our situations to advance His Kingdom.

They build our character and equip us to help others.

Romans 8:28 (NLT) reminds us that ‘God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

An MAF aircraft flies over Kenya

A life of defeat?

There are so many things that can knock us down. Health issues, financial worries, marriage breakdown, bereavement, family problems, loss, loneliness, busyness, past hurts, unforgiveness, the unknown...

In many of the countries in which MAF serves, the terrain and isolation can be overwhelming. The poverty and conflict people experience there cry out a desperate song that echoes through the land.

But one of the things we need to understand about valley seasons is that they are unavoidable — bad things happen. They are unpredictable — you can’t choose when you experience them. They’re impartial — no one is immune.

Yet they are also temporary. They won’t last forever. Remember, we are just walking through. And they have a purpose.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (Message) tells us:

‘I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold that God will have on display as evidence of His victory.’

God is using these moments to refine us as evidence of His victory! Hallelujah!

Please pray

The green pastures this psalm speaks about were not belly-deep alfalfa but small tufts of grass growing where there was moisture by the rocks.

The shepherds led their sheep to the sustenance they required, then led them on to the next mouthful whenever it was needed. Today, however, we often find ourselves dealing with tomorrow’s problems on today’s pasture.

Take a moment to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you about this, and lay down tomorrow’s problems at His feet. Ask the Lord to help you to trust Him for His provision right now.

Remember those MAF serves in isolated communities – seeking the Lord to meet all their needs in Jesus’ name. Pray that those who don’t yet know Him will find God in the valley and choose Him as their Shepherd.

Lift up the MAF family as they live their lives as a witness to God’s goodness for His glory.


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