I was sitting in a wheelchair in the lobby of the hospital, waiting for the taxi to come. My shoulder was still swollen from the operation, and my entire arm was mottled with black and blue marks.
To top it off, it was raining, adding to my dark mood. Great! Rain! I thought. Just what I need!
Nine years ago, I underwent a surgery that changed my life. When I was rushed to the hospital with terrible pain in my lower right abdomen, tests revealed that a large gangrenous cyst had ruptured, requiring emergency surgery. My surgeon assured me that I would be back on my feet within two months, and I held on to his promise.
The Hebrew word bakah means “weeping,” and in Bible times there was a valley in Israel called by that name. Figuratively, the Valley of Baca is a place where all of us have been at some time or other. It’s a place of suffering, sorrow, hardship; a dry, dusty, desert place.
Psalm 84 brings out the beautiful thought that whenever we pass through such a place, we have an opportunity to turn that difficulty or disappointment, that sorrow or hardship, whatever it may be, into a blessing.“As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring. The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength.”1
Have you ever come across a construction site where the workers were laboriously laying a tile floor—one of those mosaic floors with thousands of tiny tiles that create a picture when finished? While it’s being put in place, the picture isn’t clearly visible because the workers use grout to fill the spaces between the tiles, and the grout leaves a heavy gray film over their work that hides the beauty of what they’ve done. But then, once the grout between the tiles is dry, the film is washed off and the picture is revealed.
That’s similar to how God works in our lives. In His infinite wisdom and all-encompassing love, He understands exactly what we need and goes to great lengths, with intricate detail, to provide those things.
If you’re finding it harder than usual to get into the Christmas spirit this year, you aren’t alone. It’s been an especially tough year for this weary world of ours.
The first two months alone saw popular revolts break out in 13 North African and Middle Eastern nations, following Tunisia’s lead a few weeks earlier. Some were bloodless, others bloody, but all proved that there are no overnight fixes for longstanding social and economic disparities. We all hope for the best for the 300 million people in those countries, but we must also realize that change will be a long, slow, and probably painful process.
John 14:18: I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Question: Why does God allow suffering? Doesn’t He care about us?
Answer: God certainly does care! It hurts Him to see us suffer as a result of our own wrong choices or the wrong choices and actions of others.
The Bible tells us, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear [reverence] Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”1
When the world goes to pieces, the best place to be is in the charmed circle of God’s protection. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”1