Summary: Christains all pass through valleys of despair and depression. Here are three truths that will aid the believer while he/she is in the valley.
THE VALLEY OF BACA (Weeping)
Wouldn’t it be great if we never went through valleys in our Christian experience? If things were always on an even keel, or better yet, high up on the mountain slopes. While Brenda and I were in Montana, we used to drive up Beartooth Pass to a height of around 12,000 feet. We have stood on the side of the mountain up above the clouds, where the sky was blue and the sun was shining, even though it was cloudy and gray below in the valley. I remember walking through alpine meadows, with patches of snow still clearly seen, even in July and August. It was great while up on the mountaintop. However, we knew that we could not stay there. The work of the church was fifty miles away in Billings, plus the winters are severe when you are up that high. Even in March, April, Oct. and November, you could easily be stranded in a sudden mountain storm. The valley was a place we knew we had to come down to eventually.
Spiritually speaking, our walk with God is often the same way. He allows us to experience, from time to time, the wonderful heights of the mountain, yet to only come down to the lowest depths of the valley. We wonder why? Why can’t we stay on the mountain top? Why must we walk through the depths of the valley? The truth is that valleys are part of life, every person has their share of problems, troubles and valleys. Regardless of how isolated some may appear to be from such troubles, rest assured that they too reach those places where they wonder why as well. Norma Jean was a person who appeared to have everything. The most famous men in the world courted her. Even presidents desired her. She made millions, her name was splashed across almost every newspaper in the country. Yet, she died from an overdose, and she choked to death on her own vomit, ruled a suicide by the doctor. Most of you don’t know her as Norma Jean, but rather as Marilyn Monroe, her stage name. She appeared to have everything going for her, but she didn’t. Job said in Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. That’s life.
Psalms 84 is a song of pilgrimage, about going on a journey. Every Jewish male was required to worship at the temple at least three times a year if at all possible (Deut. 16:16). For many families, it was the highlight of the year, to be able to go to Jerusalem and see the sights and sounds of the big city, to be able to enter into the temple and see the splendor of it. Many traveled great distances and endured hardship to be able to make it to Jerusalem. The way was sometimes discouraging, so they would sing and worship as they traveled. This psalm is believed to be one of the ones that they sung, to remind them, especially during the discouraging parts of the journey, of the glory of God’s house. This psalm is expressed with deep longing for the presence of God, to be in His house, to be in His courts, and to dwell in His presence is the object of this psalm. For many of them that traveled, it was like a homecoming, they would see family that that had not seen for a while, but still the highlight was to be in the temple of God, worshipping and praising Him.
As they traveled, outside of Jerusalem, was a valley called the Valley of Baca. Most of pilgrims had to pass through this valley to make it to Jerusalem. I have heard several ideas about the Valley of Baca, some scholars believe it was a garbage heap, a dump, that the pilgrims passed by, other scholars believe it takes its name from the Balsam tree. Balsam trees grew in dry places, so it is believed that the Valley of Baca was a harsh, dry, place that would test the patience of the pilgrims as they journeyed to meet with God. Such a valley exists between the Jordan and Jerusalem. The Balsam tree, at a certain time, weeps its sap, and no doubt, this reminded the travelers of the tears that they themselves shed while on the journey. Baca also means weeping in the Hebrew language, so many see it as a place of great sorrow. We too have our valleys of Baca that we pass through on our way to the new Jerusalem. There are several truths that will help us that this passage gives us.
I. THE PILGRIM ONLY PASSES THROUGH THE VALLEY.
1. When I read this, I am reminded of the story about the old country preacher, that was asked what his favorite part of the Bible was. He replied, “My favorite part is that one that says, “and it came to pass”. Someone told him that didn’t make any sense, why not choose a passage like the 23rd Psalm, or the Golden rule. He replied, “Those verse are mighty good too, but I like “and it came to pass”. He was then asked what is so special about that verse. He said, “I know that whatever I go through, no manner how bad it is, that it too will come to pass, and I will make it through.”