I may have written on this subject before, but here I go again. Each day I’m encountering people who are going through dark, dark valleys. It may be life-threatening diseases; it may be divorces, criminal acts against the innocence, grief, and disasters from the elements–flooding, hurricanes–or even God’s own people threatening to destroy themselves. My heart aches for anyone in sharp pain because evil, like barbed wire, has bound them in suffering. We may be that individual, or we might be watching someone raw with pain. What can we do? Where is there help?
In biblical days, people would go to Gilead which was located east of the Jordan River. There many spices grew which were mixed together and made into an ointment. When I was a child, my folk bought a salve from the Watkins man. Yep, I’m telling you my age. Many of you may never have heard of the Watkins’ man, but he went door to door selling the Watkins’ products. Looking back, it seems funny that no one bothered with his name; they just called him the Watkins man. Salve, ointment, or balm, I use the terms interchangeably, could cure about anything. If we got a cold, then we were slathered in menthol salve. But the balm in Gilead was even more valued. It was made from resin taken from a flowering plant. It was referred to three times in the Bible–once in Genesis and twice in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 8 it speaks of the prophet hearing bad news and crying out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” He was really asking is there no healing?
Today, we shake our heads at the unbelievable horrors that are occurring in our world, and we might ask like Jeremiah, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” What we’re really asking is God, what are you going to do about this? We may become desperate for relief; this is where some people get in trouble by turning to alcohol or drugs. We may say we can’t stand it and some choose to end their life. But Jesus has a word for us; in fact he had many words for us. Let’s take a minute and look at what he says.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” John 16:33 NIV (Capitalization mine.) What is he saying? That sin is in the world, but he is the VICTOR. You stand with him if he’s your Savior. If he isn’t, then invited him into your heart.
A very wise pastor once gave me some good advice. He said, “Don’t ask God to take you out of the valley, but ask him to go with you and teach you.” Also, I believe it was Rick Warren who said, “We’re either in a valley, just came out of a valley, or getting ready to go into a valley.”
The truth is that as long as we’re alive, we’re not going to escape the valley, so we’d better stand with the Victor and have Him go with us through it, refining us as we go. Terrible things are not God’s will, but he may allow it, and he will use our suffering for good. We’ll be more compassionate with others who are going through similar things. We’ll become more kind-hearted, we’ll realize what Christ’s death on the cross cost, why it was needed, and how valuable life in Christ is.
I’m not telling you to deny your pain. It’s real; you’re bound to feel it. But I do encourage you to take it to the Father. Tell him your feelings and ask him to carry it for you. I can promise you he will. John 14:27 reads, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace of the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” TLB
Doctor Janet, here, prescribes reading 5 Psalms per day while you’re walking your dark corridor. Devour the words of comfort. Then get an envelope or a prayer box and write down your problems. Give them to the Lord. Every time you take them back, write them down again and give them to him again. Do this until you can release them to HIM and let HIM carry them for you. You may be in the darkest valley, but you don’t have to walk it alone. Cling to Jesus as if your life depends on it. It does, my friend, it really does. You’re going to make it—He’s got this! In HIS love, Janet