In this life we are not immune to trials. I am no stranger to walking through valleys – especially in my adult life. Sometimes they last for a day and sometimes they have lasted for years. By God’s grace I have also been blessed to be at the mountain tops too. When those mountain tops come a long I certainly don’t take them for granted. In fact, I was just telling a friend the other day how, at that time, things were wonderful and that I know I have been gifted this time and not to take it for granted. This is not to say we should live with the perspective that doom and gloom will most certainly come our way if we are at a majestic peak, rather just to know that it truly is a gift. Through the difficulties I have gone through I have come to realize that there are many weapons I can use to be sure that I don’t stray away from God, but instead walk WITH Him during a challenging time in my life. [box] Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and your staff they comfort me. [/box] Our Heavenly Father wants to be with us to protect us, guide us and comfort us through the challenges in life.
Here are 5 weapons over the years I have come to lean on in good and bad times. I use these in hopes to cling fervently to the Lord so that I can grow and be refined through whatever I am going through. Please know that in typing this I don’t want you to think I walk in perfection alongside my sweet Jesus through every trial. I wish! I am human just like you and just like Paul says in the Bible “I do not what I want to do…” I can identify with that. In fact, the hardest part is being sure to be mindful about the choices I make each day in the life I live. My life, as yours, is a continuing journey all the way until we meet our Creator.
Weapon #1 Prayer
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is no perfect way to pray. Sometimes just pouring our heart out to the Lord gives peace. We can do it anytime of the day. It was during one of my deepest betrayals in my life that I was literally crying out to the Lord and He gave me my life verse (on the sidebar of this website.) I had never remembered coming across this verse in my life but God spoke it to me in my time of need. Listening to the Holy Spirit takes quite the effort sometimes but I find that if I am fully surrendered (and often times broken) I hear the soft whisper of His voice in soothing ways. It provides a calm. His Rod and Staff do comfort me.
Praying God’s word back to him is also very powerful. This is why Weapon #4 (stay tuned tomorrow for that) is important.
If you are sick the Bible has clear instruction on what to do:
James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
The last idea for prayer is something that my husband set the example for. Praying on your knees. Do you have to do this? No, certainly not. Again, God meets us where we are. I have found though, that when I get on my knees my mindset changes. Being in a humble servants position helps me to see God in His sovereignty. Truly it is about our hearts (which God knows) not our position during prayer but this is just a way that has greatly helped my perspective and focus during prayer in my quiet times.
Weapon #2 Read Scripture Daily
John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
“Abide,” scripturally speaking, means to rest or to dwell. When we are reading the truth of The Word we are abiding. One of the ways that God speaks to us is by using His Word (The Bible.) More often than not, when I am struggling with something or feel that dark cloud over me, God uses scripture to reaffirm His character and His ways to me as well as convict me. Bible reading doesn’t have to be some ritual done at the same time everyday or some box to check off. As we grow closer to the Lord we will naturally hunger and thirst for more of Him. Bible reading daily helps me to fight off Satan’s lies. The devil tries to lie to us all the time and kick us when we are already down. Sometimes these lies are easy to believe unless we are purposefully redirecting our thoughts to the truths of the one and only Word of God.
We can read the bible anytime. If you set aside more time for an actual bible study, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is a great tool to use. You can look up a topic you are dealing with or certain words . I love using this for word studies – especially when I am dealing with a topic specifically that the Bible addresses. It is also a great idea to do a word study on the opposite of what you are dealing with. For example, if you are struggling in the area of loving your spouse then doing a word study on that is great but also a word study on hate. God uses the opposite of good as a warning and reading these warnings in the Bible can be a factor of heart change. Another book that I find really helpful in Bible study is Where to Find it in the Bible. For those topical searches in God’s word this is a great resource. I know that in all likelihood we don’t always have time to do an in depth study in scripture but I know that there is much fruit to come out of making studying the Bible a priority in our lives. The most powerful parts of my testimony come out of the valleys when I was so low and chose to take ample time to spend with The Lord and study His truths for me.
Weapon #3 Journaling
Journaling has been a wonderful weapon for me because it has provided a way to keep track of the ways God has spoken to me or the verses God has used to comfort me or change my heart. Our experiences with the Lord can be a legacy that we can pass down to our children and most of us, unless we have a mind as sharp a tack, don’t remember half of the victories God has given us. I find journaling has been a great way to remember these things.
Another thing I like to do is to write dates and notes in my Bible. I know, some of you don’t like to write in your bible but if you do it you might find it fulfilling. I have used the same Bible for years and have many notes, prayers and dates written in the margins. It is often that I will come across a note with a date that might have been from many years ago for something I was praying for. It is fun to look back on those and realize answered prayer or to see how much farther I am in my journey and walk with Christ. I remember a story a friend of mine told me after he became a widower when his wife died. After she died he found her bible and started reading from it. He said that it was like getting to know her all over again because of all the notes she had in her bible about how God spoke to her or prayers and such. I just love that. Journaling in a journal and/or your Bible helps us to stay close to God because we can read about our trials and God’s presence in our life and be reminded of His continuing faithfulness.
Journaling doesn’t have to take a huge chunk of time each day either. It can be simple and quick or it can be longer. My entries are usually longer when I am in a valley though!
As I look back in my most recent journal here are some verses that I found comforting during my trials:
I also keep a Thankfulness/ Blessings Journal which is an almost daily recording of about 3 – 5 things I am thankful for or blessed by. When I am in a valley I have found this to help redirect my thoughts to things that God has blessed me with. This kind of journal takes very little time. I highly recommend doing this. You can read another article I have written about Journaling here.
None of these suggestions really have to take that long. The idea is that we continue to focus on the Lord and WHO He is through our trials and get the focus off ourselves.
Click here to read part 2 and find out weapons #4 and #5 we can use for walking through the valley WITH God.
~~Originally, I intended for this to be one post but I tend to get wordy (maybe a blessing or a curse) so I needed to separate this article into two posts. I really want you to have the time to read the entire thing and I know nobody (mostly) has the time these days to actually read a very lengthy article. Come back for part 2 (the last 2 weapons) tomorrow!