“Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Because the Arameans have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”’ 1 Kings 20:28 [NASB]
Nine months ago today I hugged my precious daughter for the last time on this earth. Nine months. I can’t say or hear that phrase without thinking of the time span I carried her within my womb as the Lord knit her beautifully together beneath my heart. The time span from realizing you are pregnant to giving birth seems so very long in the midst of anticipation. The nine months of missing Sarah has seemed equally long in many ways, but dauntingly short in others.
As I approached my time with the Lord this morning, hungering for His encouragement, I purposefully did not seek out scripture specifically to soothe my soul as I frequently do. Instead I chose to read and meditate on the Old and New Testament books I have been systematically working through. Not surprisingly at all, my ever faithful Lord met me there, turning His Living Word as a multifaceted gem, to minister to my yet wounded heart and spirit.
The account of an Aramean War was my source of encouragement today. I never would have discovered this one had I gone digging specifically for encouragement, but what an encouraging gem it is.
Israel had just defeated the Arameans. The response of the servants of the King of Aram was as follows:
“Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we will be stronger than they. Do this thing: remove the kings, each from his place, and put captains in their place, and 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, and surely we will be stronger than they.’ And he listened to their voice and did so.” 1 Kings 20:23-25 [NASB]
The enemies of Israel are basically telling their king, “bring them low, down into the valley, their God will be powerless there, we will be stronger than they, and we will defeat them in the valley.” Typing that finds my eyes brimming with tears. I am confident those are the words my adversary uttered the day he flipped that bus, crushing my child beneath the weight of it. I can hear him proclaiming to his minions, “they are preserved and victorious as long as they are on that mountaintop, but watch as I force them into the valley where I will overcome and destroy them.”
Never confuse valleys for places of respite conducive to healing, or “no combat zones” free from battles. There are no truces in the valleys. To the contrary, entry into a valley frequently brings with it the painful ramping up of existing battles, as well as unexpected engagement in brand new battles. Just like the Arameans, our adversary still regularly employs this tactic today. He loves to get us into the valley to fiercely fight against us there with every intention of defeating us. He delights to force God’s people into the valley and then taunt them in the midst of his attacks, “your God is not here” and “with certainty, you will be defeated in this valley.” Lies uttered from a frothy mouth prepared to devour.
Through a man of God, the unchanging God of the universe spoke to the King of Israel regarding the Arameans, “Thus says the LORD, “Because the Arameans have said, ‘The LORD is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys,’ therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD” (1 Kings 20:28). God gave the Arameans over to be slaughtered because they said He was “not a god of the valleys.” Our God clearly finds it vitally important that all people know He is not only the God of the mountains, He is the God of the Valleys as well. Oh what precious encouragement to be reminded of that truth.
If you, like me, find yourself in a valley today, take courage that whatever valley you are in, He is still God there. He is The God of the Valleys, and He longs for you to know that. Whether on the highest heights of the mountain tops or in the deepest pits of the lowest valleys, we are never beyond the reach of His righteous right hand. He longs to uphold us and carry us. His amazing grace is sufficient to sustain us in our darkest valleys, and it is free flowing through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I testify to this truth today, nine months in the valley, so that you, too, may know He is the LORD, The God of the Valleys (1 Kings 20:28).
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:7-12 [NASB]
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 [NASB]
Scott & Sarah nine months ago today… June 8, 2017