"Learning to Farm the Valleys."
In Psalm 77, we find the psalmist in a place familiar to us all, in a "day of trouble." Certainly, we frequent this place more often than any of us would like, but I believe we can see these "days of trouble" as opportunities to cultivate fruit in unexpected places, just as the psalmist did. The call upon our lives to honor God in every season and circumstance is real, perhaps more real than ever, as we experience quarantine and uncertainty. Speaking of a famous world leader who sought to honor God as he led a nation, Stephen Mansfield said that "he learned to farm the valleys of his life and later found the fruit of his labors sweet and sustaining against the press of battle." When we find ourselves in valleys, we are tempted to look up at the mountain top and pine for the days of comfort and ease, yet there is work to be done in the valleys that we must not neglect.
In the middle of his trouble, the psalmist begins to ponder questions that we all struggle with from time to time. Verses 7-9 say,
"Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
Has His faithful love ceased forever?
Is His promise at an end
For all generations?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger
withheld his compassion?"
He ends his thought by saying, "I am grieved that the right hand of the Most High has changed." This is serious pain and hurting, which I am sure we can relate to on some level. We have all wrestled with thoughts of wondering if God has changed or left us. We wonder if we did something to deserve this or maybe not enough to deserve better. We wonder if God's promises have stopped, or perhaps we did not hear Him properly. Certainly if I had done more or done better I would not be in this situation. In these times, we must do as the psalmist did. We must farm the valley for the fruit that is promised to come from our struggles. With his mind racing, Asaph chooses to remember and reflect on God's past blessings. In verses 11-12 he writes,
"I will remember the Lord's works;
yes, I will remember
Your ancient wonders.
I will reflect on all you have done
and meditate on your actions."
This is how we farm the valley. We remember and reflect. Be careful not to bring the thought back to your mind and let it leave so quickly as not to have time to reflect upon it. We must spend time pondering upon His blessings and goodness.
As we learn to farm the valleys of our lives, we find that the seed we plant is remembrance. We plant seeds of remembrance so that we will harvest hope. Romans 5:3-4 says, "But we also rejoice in our afflictions because we know the affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character provides hope. As we plant remembrance, often watered by our tears, we are promised the fruit of hope. And this hope does not disappoint. Let us learn to farm the valleys so that we can see our God can produce fruit in every season of our lives.