There is Another Side of the Valley

Bill Brinkworth

When standing in the valley of difficulty, we many times only see the trials and tribulations that surround us and do not see any hope for the future. After the ordeal is over, and we leave that place, there usually is a calmness in our life that does not leave any hint of what preceded it. The storm passed. Things changed. We are not in the pit of despair, but on a mountain on the other side of a difficult experience.

The hard times you are going through, or will go through, will one day pass. Hang on through them. Draw close to God through the difficulty. It certainly is not the time to shake your fist and be angry with God. Life has its trials. A great, all-seeing God can lead you through the trying experiences.

Hard times are not a modern situation. Everyone has had them. In biblical days, hard times came for:

Joseph. Joseph faced what seemed like a lifetime of tragedies after his brothers turned against him. After throwing him in a deep pit, they sold him into slavery. Could matters get worse? Yes, and they did eventually. For awhile, things improved. He excelled in the situation in which he found himself. Joseph became a responsible, reliable worker in the household where he was bound.

He was tempted to do wrong with the wife of his master. When he refused, he was lied about, and thrown in prison. Perhaps he thought, when he sat in that cold jail cell, “If I had not said anything and done what Potiphar’s wife wanted me to do, I wouldn’t be here today”. Then he remembered or came to his senses, “No, if I did wrong, the God in Heaven wouldn’t have been happy with my sin, and matters would have been worse”. So, he had done right, and God blessed it.

After interpreting the meaning of two men’s dreams from his prison cell, he saw that God had used him to reveal their meaning. The interpretations came true. The one man died, but the other man’s life was spared and he was restored to the high government position, just as God had revealed it to Joseph. However, the Pharaoh’s butler he had helped, did not help him. Joseph remained in prison. “Oh, why did I help that man?” perhaps he despairingly thought. “I know”, he encouraged himself, “it was the right thing to do!”

Then one day the butler did remember, and Joseph was summoned to interpret another dream. It was the dream of the Pharaoh. After reliably interpreting the leader’s dream, Joseph was rewarded for his assistance. He was given riches, power and was mightily used to help God’s people. If he had not gone through all those hard times, he would never have reached a place of usefulness and plenty. Soon all those valleys were shadowed, as he viewed them from a tall, prosperous mountaintop.

Noah. Noah heard God tell him to do a difficult task, and he obeyed. The cost to be obedient was not cheap. As he built a huge boat in an area where there had been no rain, he certainly must have faced ridicule by his neighbors. “Ah, there goes silly Noah, wasting his and his sons’ time building a boat, because a ‘voice from God’ spoke to him,” certainly went the jeers.

Noah pressed on. He labored. He sweat. He did what he was commanded, then the rains started. The flood came. Perhaps he heard the screams of the once scoffing neighbors pleading to come in to hide in the ark’s safety. However, he was safe within the bowels of the vessel where God had locked Noah and his family in. The valley of humiliation had passed. He was on the mountain of protection with a mighty God that he had obeyed.

Job. Job had a life of plenty. He heard about the one, true God and obeyed Him. He found obedience was easy. The closer he got to God, the more the loving God blessed him. Those around him could easily see the blessings. Life was good. It was wonderful.

Then came the worst 20 minutes of his life, as one runner and employee after another came to tell him of his great losses. The past mountaintop of blessing was dwarfed by a vast, deep valley of difficulty.

However, this was the time to trust God. He knew he had never deserved the blessings in the first place. He had far more than any others did. Life was still good; although the shadow of past mountains was a distant glimmer of the valley where he now found himself.

The valley got deeper. Illness piled upon his loss. Friends turned against him. Even his wife failed to support him. The sun finally came out. The trials were over. God saw that Job passed the test of tribulations with steadfast love and obedience. Job could still be trusted with valuables, houses, and authority. God’s blessings returned after one trying year of agony. He now was given twice as much as he originally had been given. God was still good on the other side of the valley of hardship.

Jonah. We do not know much about Jonah’s life before his disobedience. We do know that he was a prophet. He was used of God.

One day, obedience took a back seat to doing what he was told. Perhaps, it was because he was comfortable in serving God on his terms and his own way. Going where God commanded him to go would mean saving a people that he really did not want rescued. Their past deeds to the people of Israel were loathsome in Jonah’s mind. He did not want to obey God’s command. Perhaps, Jonah figured, “The people in Tarshish are wicked also. They create idols for their false gods. I can still serve God there without dealing with those filthy Ninevites.” Maybe there was convenient passage to go the wrong direction from God’s obedience. Maybe he even determined that the cheap ticket or the convenient, empty seat on the boat to Tarshish was proof that it was okay with God.

He moved off the mountaintop of serving God after he boarded that vessel. The circumstances of ease stopped as a mighty God’s wrath rained and blew on his vessel. The waves hammered the vessel. The sky blackened. Seasoned sailors panicked over the ensuing storm. Jonah was in a valley, and not alone.

He recognized he had not gotten away with his disobedience, and that the convenient circumstances were not God’s will. Jonah knew who it was that was stopping him from his insurrection. After insisting on being thrown overboard to stop his raging God, the unwilling crew obliged. Jonah sank down into the dark, deep waters. The storm immediately ceased. The deck was crammed with instant believers. They knew it was not a coincidence. A great and powerful God had ended the valley of no hope for them.

For Jonah, the valley caused by his disobedience grew deeper and deeper; as the waters engulfed him. A strange feeling it must have been as a large, obedient whale swallowed the drowning man. Life still continued for Jonah, but now it was in the lonely, darkness of the whale’s belly. In the valley of despair there was time to think. There was time to wonder why he had not first obeyed when he was told. There was time to know if he had to do it all over again, he would obey.

After what seemed an eternity of loneliness and darkness, the imprisonment ended. The whale vomited Jonah out into shallow waters. He saw sunshine again. There was a second chance to do what he was supposed to do.
Jonah ran willingly to the awaiting city to warn them of their eventual doom for their wickedness. He had a heart about the matter then. He knew quite well that no one could escape the wrath of an all-seeing God, and that the price tag on sin was not pleasant. The valley of despair, and of not being used of God, was viewed from a mountain of “I learned my lesson the hard way.”

David. David was used by God. He saw the power and felt the assistance of God as he was enabled to be victorious over his enemies. He knew quite clearly the he was only able to accomplish what he had, because the helping hand of God was with him. Then one day the mountaintop of seeing the power of God was hid by a fog created by David’s own sin. It too started with disobedience. If he had only led his army to battle, he would not have been home idling his time away. If he had not been idle, he would not have gazed on the nakedness of a neighboring woman he spied from his rooftop. His lustful gaze turned to action as he committed sin with her that he much regretted later.

That sin led to a need to cover it up and make it possible to continue to do wrong. Soon he found himself orchestrating the death of the woman’s husband. Sin snowballed into more trouble.

In the end, he found himself with a sick child born from his sinful relationship with Bathsheba. He knew why the sickness had befallen the child. It was because of his actions. If he had only done what he was originally told to do, he would not have been in the valley where he found himself.

The child died. David lost what was dear to him; but he gained another opportunity to do what pleased His God, and that which would again give David peace and purpose. The second chance allowed him to climb another mountain on the other side of a valley.

Lazarus. Lazarus had a lifetime of valleys: one after another. There was much that he never had. He never had decent clothing. He never had wealth; nor did he even have health.

His entire lifetime was one spent in poverty and unfathomable living conditions. Because of his ailments, he could not work. His sustenance was obtained by begging. It was a deplorable, humiliating lifestyle. He had little hope, until the day he heard about a loving God that loved even him in all his filth and squalor. It was He whom he then trusted.

Even though his life was still hard, it was His God that supplied his daily needs. Perhaps, if it were not for his pitiful condition, he would not have seen or known about a God that could get him through one valley after another.

Then one day, Lazarus’ valleys ended forever. He left his diseased and lice-infested body behind, and found himself in God’s paradise forever. Many of those that seemed to have it all when he was on earth, now glared up at him from their position in a dark, hopeless Hell. He found himself on an eternal mountain; one that would never end.


While in this flesh, each one of us will go through valleys. Some of these trials are allowed to help get us in the place where God wants us; some to give us a new start with a better life. Trials sometimes happen in our life that others may see how God helps us through the hard times. It is even possible that the difficulties are brought on as we defied what our God has commanded us to do. Sometimes they are just our portion in life. No matter the reason or the circumstances; there is still a God to be close to through that valley. The darkness that is seen during those times may only be the shadow of the next mountain God has ahead for us.

This article was featured in The Bible View #159.

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