Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pain: winning

This entry is also from my With Great Mercy blog and website.

November 3, 2008

Then the LORD took hold of me and said, “Get up and go out into the valley, and I will speak to you there.” So I got up and went, and there I saw the glory of the LORD… Ezekiel 3:22-23.

After reading my last blog entry, several people have asked me how a valley of tears could become a place of refreshing. It doesn’t make sense if we trust only our senses and our logic. Through our faith in the Lord, though, we learn how a personal valley can become a place to witness God’s glory.

Ezekiel – the prophet whom God chose to be watchman for Israel – had no choice but to warn the Israelites about God’s upcoming wrath. No one wants to hear gloom and doom, and this made Ezekiel’s task a painful and dangerous one. Yet he wanted to be obedient, and he was. It was in the midst of this obedience that God led Ezekiel into a valley.

The valley represents a place of loss, of weeping, and of mourning. No one wants to be there. Let’s face it: feeling good feels good. Feeling low, sick, bad, unloved, grieved, or feeling pain doesn’t feel good. Our flesh has a disdain for the valley. But sometimes our spirit cries out for it.

We’ve heard the adage about being down so low that there is no place to look but up. I think that adage has a lot to do with valleys. Down so low, we’re usually there all alone. That’s when we really long for understanding. No matter who we are or what we need, God understands. In our aloneness, we have the chance to focus on what we can gain from the situation and to ask how we can walk out of the valley and back onto the mountain top.

Before we can ascend again, we need to see the beauty of the glory that shines down into the valley. When we’re on the mountaintop, the glory makes it difficult to see anything but ourselves and what is directly around us. But in the valley, the glory becomes so profound. We can see more of God’s creation, and in our solace we can also have a greater experience with Him.

When Ezekiel was in the valley, the Lord gave him some instructions. They were not easy to follow, but Ezekiel knew they were from God. He knew because he had just experienced God’s glory. A personal experience with God helps us while we remain in the place of lowness. Having an intimate experience with the Creator fosters spiritual renewal. Our circumstances may not change, but our spirits can be revived by the glory.

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