(I start writing on one day, but I don’t finish till the next.)
I am thankful for the valleys of life. Those places where the shadow presses in. Sometimes the darkness comes because of outside influences beyond my control. Sometimes I alone am to blame. Sometimes it is a combination of things. Grief, anguish, sorrow, anger, pain can be found there. Sometimes stupidity. Sometimes pride is lurking in the darkest places, courting destruction, placing relationships and opportunities at risk.
Still, in the valley there is also hope, and this is why I am thankful. Because even in the darkest valley, the light of Christ glows. It is when I am in the low times that God pushes and prods and shapes and molds my character—conforming me to His image. It is here that He chastens, convicts, convinces, comforts. It is here that He guides and directs. Providence steps in. Sovereignty overrules. Humility. Repentance. Grace. Restoration.
“Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
“Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:5b–11; this entire chapter is worth reading, but it is too big to post it all here).
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things pass away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).