Cedric Frank Sterling
Even in the Valley God Restores
Picture for a moment, an image of a valley. Valleys are known to be dark and dreary places. They are reminiscent of unpleasant and uninviting places, where nothing good can happen. The Bible often speaks of such valleys. In Psalm 23:4, for example, we read about “the valley of the shadow of death.” Psalm 84:6 mentions “The Valley of Baca,” or a place where there is no light to find our way. But valleys are not always what they seem.
I remember our first valley, my wife and I. We were young believers. On Christmas day, my wife gave birth to twins. One died. It was Hope, our surviving twin, who was the trigger that set us off through our valley. The journey took us from early morning to very late nights, back and forth. One day we would be up, and the other day we would be down. We felt as if we were in a nightmare, with no end in sight. Each day, we kept asking the question: “When?” When would we see and partake of the heritage the Lord promised us in Psalms 127:3-5? His word states: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”
Instead, we encountered numerous trials, doctors’ mistakes, infections, etc. There was isolation after isolation, with no breaks. It felt as if the journey were meant to break us and cripple our faith. We traveled through the valley, weary and exhausted. But during this time, I noticed something different about us: we would not leave the presence of the Lord. Even when things were not going right, we would still find ourselves in the house of the Lord. And from there we would go to the hospital to be with our daughter Hope. God was her hope and ours as well. We believed God trusted us with her care.
Throughout the valley, praise was our strength. We would often listen to songs in our car during our travels to the hospital. I remember one song that stood out so boldly: “I Never Stop Believing” by Tommy Walker. This song was a source of encouragement and it ministered to us right always at the right moments. There were times the doctors did not know what to try next in Hope’s treatment and care. But the song reminded me: “Saints, the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.”
And truly God was in the valley with us. I cannot tell you how it happened or what God did, or even how God did it, but our daughter Hope went from death's door to breathing on her own in a few short weeks. One night, while we were on our way home, Hope was struggling to fight off an infection. As we headed out of the hospital, I remember turning to my wife and saying, “Dear, I cannot do this anymore. I am done! I have nothing left!” With tears in my eyes, I was on the verge of giving up. When I got home that night, I felt so depressed, I could not eat. I went directly to bed. However, the next morning God had me skipping, and ready to go. It was as if God sent a fresh wind in me during the night and I forgot about the previous night’s ordeal. In the midst of the valley, God restored my soul.
I have come to realize that God will set us in the valley, not to kill us, but to strengthen us. The journey through the valley is to help us to grow up in God. The valley experience is to fortify us in our faith and our walk with God. The valley teaches us how to trust God, and how to depend on Him. When we think that all is lost, it is in the valley we find everything. My wife and I felt like we would never see our way out, but it's in the valley things become clearer. We became focused and resilient; we did not just survive, but we thrived; we hoped and did not fear; we stood still and knew that God was indeed God.
As God led us out of that valley, I remembered one Sunday I was in church at Church of God of Prophecy in the Bronx. I was called on to pray, and at the end of that prayer, a member came to me and said, “Now I know why you pray like you do. I can hear God in you.” Our valleys will not break us if we don’t give up, or give in to temptations along the way. But they will make us. The experience in the valley will cause us to know Whose we are and to Whom we belong. You see, even in the valley, God's purpose for our lives are fulfilled. Without a shadow of a doubt, God will give us peace in the valley because God is faithful to His promises.