Passing through the Valley of Baca
“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also coverts it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84: 5-7.
Brother Gearl’s message Sunday from Psalm 84 encouraged us to examine our personal level of contentment. He asked us to consider two questions: “How much of life is what I desire?” and “How much of life is what God desires?” When we focus on what God desires our focus becomes our blessings. When we focus on our desires our focus often becomes our burdens, he said.
“Our contentment doesn’t come from what we have,” he said. “Our contentment comes from who God is.” In this era of uncertainty and economic peril contentment with things and what we have is fleeting. As the things that used to comfort us and make us content (401K’s, jobs, savings accounts, houses, confidence in our leaders for example) continue to erode, Brother Gearl encouraged us to identify what our true desires really are. He reminded us that on our journey we will pass through the Valleys of Baca.
In Scripture the Valley of Baca was also called the Valley of Weeping and the Valley of Slaughter. Travelers from Bethlehem to Jerusalem (referred to as “Zion” in this passage) had to pass through this dangerous and treacherous place. It was the place where Jewish followers of Ba’al used to sacrifice their small children on altars of fire. It was a horrible place to be. Many of us are travelling through our own Valley’s of Baca today. But the key phrase in this verse is “Passing through.” Brother Gearl’s lesson asked us to consider how we respond while we’re there. “It’s a valley symbolized by difficulty, heartache, pain and suffering,” he said. “You will pass through this valley.” Many of us may feel as if we’re in that valley now. “It’s all in how you move through the valley,” he said.
Moving forward through our Valleys of Baca is the key, knowing that our contentment is never determined by the hardships we face in life, but how we respond to them, knowing our true desires: remaining in God’s will, yearning for His presence in our lives, and keeping our focus on Him throughout each day and each trial we face. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be found genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” And in Philippians 4 Paul teaches, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
Brother Gearl told us Sunday, “He (Christ) can become your peace, your answer, your greatest strength.” The last part of the verse about passing through Baca says, “…they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings.” v.6. In other words, at the other end of the Valley of Baca, you can expect blessings from God and springs of living water.
So, when you find yourself in your Valley of Baca, remember: your strength and your contentment are in Christ. And you will pass through the valley and find eternal contentment when you dwell in the house of the Lord, yearn for His courts and live in His presence in any and all circumstances.