The God Of The Hills And Valleys
I wasn’t always close to the Lord. I became a believer and follower of Jesus when I was a young girl, but then I proceeded in those following years to live life only for myself. I would think about the Lord from time to time, and I never stopped attending church, but my walk with Him was nowhere near where it should have been. I helped out with a lot of events at church, I helped write for their weekly newsletter, and I even led worship on Wednesday nights. But other than that, I really didn’t consider my faith any other time during the week.
I got married when I was young—only nineteen—and in a sense, my husband and I grew up together. We started our family when we were twenty-two, and it was when we had our second son only a mere thirteen months after son number one that we started thinking about how we were living. We knew we needed to consider becoming active church members again, and we did start attending pretty regularly. But life was appealing, and all of its temptations were too much, and before we knew it, we were back to never being faithful in our attendance.
Fast forward about three years, and two sons later (this time twins!), and I became very sick. It wasn’t a disease or anything, but I came down with pneumonia. I’ll stop right here and say that I had been a little shaken up in my life, and I had started praying again. I never realized I had stopped, but something happened, and I found myself desperate. I remember praying, and telling God to do whatever He needed to do to get me back to where I needed to be in my relationship with Him.
So, He did.
He allowed me to get really sick with pneumonia and through that, He led me to stop some sinful behavior I had picked up on. (I had also been asking Him for help with that.) I always say now to people, be careful what you ask the Lord for! You never know what He will use to get your attention, and you never know how He will answer a prayer.
Through all of that time when I was sick, which was about three weeks until I was somewhat normal again, the Lord was drawing me to Himself. I remember being starving, but not for anything other than the word of God. I was twenty eight years old at this time in my life, and though I knew the stories and the answers to all the questions I remember from church, I had never picked up my own Bible and actually sat down to read it. But something changed, and I would wake up and want to read the Bible. I would read during the day, while the kids played or napped, and I slept with it near my pillow. I couldn’t explain this insatiable thirst I had for His word.
And then, the bottom fell out from under me in my life, and my marriage started to crumble. It was during that time in my life when all of my family and friends fell away that I knew if I had no one other than the Lord Himself in my life, that He would be enough. We made it through those years of painfulness and we stayed together. What the enemy could have used as harm in our lives and in our marriage, the Lord used for good. Romans 8:28 tells us this, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
You see, He never wastes a hurt in our life. He allows us to experience all the wonderful highs of life, but He also allows us to experience all the lows. My encouragement to you is this: don’t try to hide or run away from the Lord when things get uncomfortable and hard. He will get you through them all, I promise. The Psalmist tells us that He is our very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He will never leave you, He will never forsake you. He will carry you through whatever you face. Don’t give up, though, and don’t ever stop praying. The Lord hears, and He will answer you, even if it’s in a way that is different than what you hoped for. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. He knows what is best. It’s those hard times in life that shape us and mold us.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Have you heard that song by Tauren Wells, called Hills and Valleys? I’ll leave you with a few of those lyrics, and then a closing prayer.
“I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held the blessings
God, You give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the One who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone
You’re the God of the hills and valleys!”
Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful times in life that You give us. James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation, nor the slightest hint of change. But Lord, thank You for the hard times, too. It’s during those times that you grow our faith. You always are so quick to strengthen us and shield us, and no matter what we ever face, You’re always with us, once we belong to You. Thank You, Lord. Use these words like a healing balm in someone’s life today, but most importantly, use Your word to pierce hearts, I ask in Your mighty name. Fill that same someone with the perfect peace that only You can bring. I love You, Lord, my Rock, my Song. I ask these things in Your strong and holy name. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Goodwin is a wife, and mom to four (almost) grown sons. The Lord has called her to serving in several different ministries within her church home, some of which are bible study and leading younger women, and helping in the leading of worship on Sundays. During the week you can find her writing on her blog, Overflowing With Thanksgiving and encouraging others through her favorite social media outlet: Instagram. Follow along with her and be encouraged at @jenlloydgoodwin.