“Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.”
As we traverse through life, it does not take long for us to realize that despite our best efforts, we will experience both the victorious “mountaintop,” where we see God’s hand clearly guiding us and the dark “valleys” where we can barely (if at all) perceive God’s presence. I remember one such moment very clearly:
The sunshine streamed through the window and I was busily working away at my home office. I received a phone call from a client informing me that an important project had unexpectedly gone completely sideways. I had missed a small detail and the resulting consequence was completely on me. I was so disappointed in myself that a wave of despair washed over me and completely and immediately sapped me of any energy. This was a first but I remember saying to myself “I’m done,” got up from my desk, went to my bedroom, closed the blinds and got into bed. As I was about to drift off to sleep I grabbed my well worn Bible and managed to find the strength to ask God to give me a Word. I haphazardly opened the scriptures and this is where my eyes immediately fell:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
At that moment the only thing I could do was completely surrender it to God and fall fast asleep….
“When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Now choose twelve men….take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight’….We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.'” (taken from Joshua, chapter 4)
When I awoke, I made my way back to the office to check my email and found a message from the client. To my surprise, they had managed to remedy the situation…. I sat there completely taken aback as I was reminded of the scripture that God had given me….
As I had despaired and slept, God Himself was at work on my behalf. When my strength had utterly failed, His strength had completely taken over. My Father was there and He had calmed the storm.
I was struck with the importance of the moment and the lesson God was teaching me. He was WITH me. God, the creator of the galaxies, was WITH me. In every season, situation and circumstance God was WITH me. In this, a bridge was built from my intellect to my heart. I decided at that moment that I was going to build a “pile of stones” in my mind. A memorial to God’s faithfulness and provision. I did this so that when I found myself in a similar place, later down the road of life, I could mentally go back, sit and remember. Over the years I have gone back many times. Do you know what? Mentally being there still helps calm whatever storm I may find myself in. When the rain is pouring and the thunder is raging, this is where I will sit, giving the situation to God and waiting for His help. This is the place where many spiritual workouts take place and where my faith is bolstered.
I have a friend who says, “suffering is a choice” (within the context of how we respond to hardships and challenges). I love this. How do we respond when we find ourselves face down in the valleys of life? You have a choice. Do you allow the despair to settle over you like a cold, wet blanket or do you look for God?
I would encourage you to consciously remind yourself of the mountaintop. Mentally go back to the times when God pulled you through. You may want to keep a journal of these significant moments (this is what I do), so that you have something physical to go back to, in order to be encouraged. Over the course of time, you will be reminded of the countless moments that your Father, who has your back, has shown up and that He STILL fights for you.
“When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test” but remember His words:
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:2
Keep looking up!