Life is filled with ups and downs. It’s made up of peaks and valleys. We hear people say that we need to go through the valleys to be able to appreciate the breathtaking view from the mountain peak. We get that. Or do we? Do we truly believe that “. . . God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT)? How about when we have been in the valley for a very long time? What if we really don’t want to appreciate the mountain peak and simply want to reach it? Reaching it would be enough. How do we walk the valleys of life?
Some people would advise you to think positively. They would tell you to lift up your head and walk with confidence. You can find thousands of articles and books about how having a positive outlook can give you happiness. Philippians 4:8 says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This is all true but I don’t believe it is the way we should walk in the valley.
When we force ourselves to think happy thoughts in the midst of chaos we begin to lie to ourselves. We say, “Oh no! Everything is going great! Can’t complain!” We put on a mask and pretend that we are on the mountain peak when really, we’re in the depths of the valley. If you go back two verses you can see the complete picture. Verse 6 and 7 says, “6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul is telling us to pray about everything and tell God what we need!
This is different from simply thinking happy thoughts. This is being honest about our situation and relying on God to give us peace. When we simply think happy thoughts we are relying on our own efforts and ignoring the fact that we need Jesus.
James 4:8-10 says it very clearly, “8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”
James is talking about sin here and sin is not always the cause of our rough situations but how many of us have gone our knees and cried over our sin? God will lift us up when we are able to be honest about ourselves. How can we be honest about our mess while fixing our thoughts on what is true, honorable, pure, lovely, and admirable? When we come close to God as we are, He will come close to us and give us peace that exceeds anything that we can understand.
When you are in the valley, don’t pretend you are on the mountain peak. Don’t say you’re fine when you are not. We must first come close to God, be honest with Him, and let Him fill us with peace and happy thoughts. I promise you: you will still enjoy the view when you reach the mountain peak.