This is the third and final installment in the Surviving the Valley series. Part I and Part II were focused on gearing up for and making it out alive respectively. This post, though, turns our attention outward.
One of the most unexpected things that has happened in my valley experiences have been the reactions of God’s people – both helpful and hurtful. Both equally floored me. You see, helping people in the valley is extremely hard – I mean really helping. It is more than a word or a gesture because the valley is more than a pothole. And, I’m convinced more and more, it isn’t until we have the war wounds of the valley that we understand that.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind when considering stepping foot into someone else’s valley:
- The situation can’t be resolved easily or it would have by the time you heard about it. If you move toward someone hurting, be prepared for a lengthy stay. If you can’t or don’t want to offer something more than words of advice, it is much better to simply pray.
- If your first instinct is to shake your finger and tell someone how the choices they made led to their situation, step away from the ledge. The valley isn’t the time or place to beat people up over what they did wrong. Again, just pray.
- Get right with God! Entering someone else’s valley will require the ability to relay wisdom gained directly from God. It isn’t about what you know, but what God is doing that is important. If your relationship with God is anything less than vibrant, your effectiveness as a vessel of God for this person will be diminished.
In essence, our hearts need to break for those that are hurting; while at the same time we get a tinge of excitement because we know that God is up to something very special. Our own valley experiences have given us this perspective.
That’s the wonderful paradox of the valley – hard times = greatest change. The metaphors in Scripture are plentiful:
- The refiner’s fire
- The runner’s race
- Iron sharpening iron
- The cross
So the question remains on just how do you help someone in the valley. Your heart is breaking for them and you feel called to step into the middle of it because you know they need to be propped up. While there isn’t a formula, two things made the biggest difference for me in the valley:
- Expressions of love. Whenever someone would come up and hug my neck and tell me that they love me and are praying, it was like a warm bed on a cold morning. It is hard to comprehend how restorative an simple, selfless act of love can be. I learned a ton about how much people loved me through these kind acts.
- An ear to listen. For some, the truths being taught in the valley are revealed through a verbal discourse. This usually isn’t a request for “answers”, but more often just the need to get something inside to the outside.
As I’ve said before, valley-goers are a rare breed. I wish it weren’t true and I have several theories about why that is, but you’ve suffered enough by this point reading my ramblings. You are still there…right??? Just checking.
In short, hug their neck, clear your schedule for when God calls you to sit a spell and pray like crazy that His Will be done in their heart. Other than that, sit back and be ready to rejoice at the top of the next rise because there won’t be a lack of things to talk about.
Your legacy in the lives of others can come from many places – I hope for some of you, it will be in the form of a valley-goer for someone in need.
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