"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7
I'm in the middle of reading a fiction book that uses some of the verses above. I just love the analogy they are using in the book with the Valley of Baca, and I thought it would make a great blog post. Something that I always find interesting when I'm reading my Bible is how so many different things in the Bible have different meanings. Names of places and people can completely change the meaning of a verse if you learn what their meaning is. In this case, it's the Valley of Baca. Baca actually means weeping, so we're talking about people of God going through a valley of weeping- or a tough spot in their life.
Now think about a mountain range, littered with valleys. Normally, when you see a couple of mountains lined up, they are not stacked one on top of another, instead, you have a mountain, and then a valley, then another mountain. Then there is another valley before you come to the next mountain, and so on. This can be applied directly to life.
Think about it. Think back to some of the high points in life. We don't just usually have a string of high points, normally they are high points in life, but in between we go through some tough stuff. When we are unsaved these "mountains" and "valleys" don't seem to have meaning or purpose, but look again at this verse above in Psalms, which we who are believers can use and cling to when we are going through a rough time.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have their hearts set on pilgrimage. Pilgrimage tells us that these people are those who want to get closer to God. (That's us!) But while we're on our pilgrimage- this journey we call life- we sometimes make our way across the Valley of Baca- the valley of sorrows. This can be a rough patch in life, a period of time where we may feel a bit like Job- like things are just going wrong and then wrong some more. When we find ourselves in one of these valleys of sorrow, we can take great comfort from this verse. Because as we are going through this valley, there will be springs and pools where we can find refreshing in the midst of our toils. But there's an even bigger encouragement here- something to cling to all the days of our lives.
We go from strength to strength! We go from mountain to mountain. The valley we may occasionally find ourselves has an end, and one day we will find ourselves on another mountain. The valley always has an end. Always! And when we look back, we can see the many valleys and mountains we have gone through, and we can be encouraged, because each valley has made us stronger and more able to climb out of the next valley we come to.
And one day, we will climb that final mountain and find ourselves in the midst of glory, in Zion, where He dwells. But we can't get to that mountain until we go through the valley before it!
Sometimes those valleys just seem like they will never end, or they seem to get worse and worse. We can take our rest and refreshing by the springs and pools, and gain the strength we need to make it through the valley. And as we make our way through the valley, we can also look ahead, and see in front of us that mountain that we are going to reach. That alone can be such an encouragement and can lift our spirits- to know that this valley will not last forever. We will make it to the next mountain, and we will find ourselves in a blessed and wonderful time in our life. The struggles we find in the valley are worth it to get to that next mountain.
I like this analogy. I don't much care for the times we're going through our own valley of sorrows, but I sure do love thinking that the next time we find ourselves in a rough patch, we will find a great source of encouragement right here in the Psalms. Someday we'll make the climb up that last mountain, and when we look back, I think we will find that the journey will have been worth it. Mountain climbers don't just one day decide they are going to climb Mt. Everest. They start small. The climb smaller mountains and work their way up through the mountains of the world, and then one day they decide that they are ready to tackle the big one. It's a serious of steps to condition themselves and prepare themselves for the climb of their lives. Each mountain and valley that we go through is another step to prepare us for eternity in His Glorious Presence. I will be thankful for the small mountains that we have climbed, and I will be thankful for the valleys that are behind us as well. And as others come along, and we see them struggling through that valley that we've already navigated, we can offer counsel and encouragement for them as well.
"How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Selah" Psalm 84:1-4