It is only natural to reflect on the year past, contemplating everything that happened in your life, perhaps even desiring to press the ‘delete button’ on some situations! Whatever your experience was this year, God is always good and worthy of our thanksgiving. Whether you had a “mountain top” year or a “valley of despair” year, pause a moment to reflect…
Mountain top view
Have you had a mountain top year? Standing on the top of a mountain or canyon is a most exhilirating experience – feeling on top of the world and being able to gaze into the far distance! On the heights, we easily feel closer to God, overflowing in praise and worship from a joyful heart.
It truly is a wonderful encouragement to one’s soul and spirit to experience a season of breakthroughs, abundance in body, soul and spirit, and peace. Our Father knows just what we need and His timing is always perfect. Every good and perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father. (James. 1: 17). Praise Him for that!
Beware never to let down your guard during mountain top seasons. You could be more prone to fall into sin. (1 Corinthians 10:12). Watch out never to become prideful, self-reliant and miss out on what such a season is there for. Do this by keeping a humble heart and giving God glory for your favourable circumstances. Giving thanks to the Lord is so important – like the one healed leper who returned to thank Jesus. (Luke 17:15-19).
Also remember, the Lord blesses you to be a blessing to others and not just for your sake. He makes His kingdom reach others through you. When He has comforted you, it is so that you can give others the same comfort in their time of trouble. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).
Those finding themselves in a valley or canyon, have a completely different view from those on the mountain top. Their view is mostly obstructed by bends in the river valley, with a high mountain or hill restricting free movement. Shadows are cast by the surrounding mountains and rockfaces, which bring darkness and coldness more suddenly. Fog also tends to linger for longer in valleys, obstructing visibility. Then, during the rainy season, mudslides and rivers of water running down the mountainslopes can easily become a torrent of potential disaster for those down below.
Maybe this past year was a valley experience for you. Valley experiences cross every believer’s path at one time or another, and there are different possible reasons for it.
1. God is teaching you
The New Testament describes Jesus so aptly as our Teacher – and what a Teacher! Mostly throughout the gospels and Acts, Jesus teaches us the way of His kingdom. He taught as one who had authority. Yet, though He was a Son, He also had to learn obedience by the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:8).
Remember, if you are a true son or daughter of your Heavenly Father, then he also disciplines you as such. Only illegitimate children are not disciplined. …God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12: 10-11).
Do not harden your heart. Our Heavenly Father is much more interested in our sanctification than our comfort, because He knows that it will bring us closer to Him and His purposes, which will eventually also produce the greatest joy in us. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11).
In the end we have to come to a place where we accept that we will not have all the answers to our “Why”-questions here on earth. If we trust Him, then we must rest in Him.
2. Poor decisions
Have you made poor decisions that have led to aspects of your life becoming more difficult? The Lord makes it clear in His Word that we are to consult Him in whatever we do and not simply use our limited human understanding of a situation. (Proverbs 3:5-6). Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is your Helper (John 14:26) and Paul states that God’s Word gives us everything we need for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Then there is also wise human counsel that can be very valuable when having to get clarity in decision-making. (Proverbs 1:5; 15:22). If you have not followed the wise counsel of God, confess that to Him and turn from your own understanding. Decide to stay close to the Lord and walk in His ways from now on.
3. Result of sinful actions
The trials and difficult circumstances that you may find yourself in, can possibly be the result of either your own or someone else’s sins. If it was your own sin, confess and repent of it before the Lord. You may also need to ask someone’s forgiveness and in some cases the need will be there to make restitution for the damage or loss that you have caused.
If the circumstances are due to another’s sin that has caused you to experience loss or damage, it is vitally important to forgive that person or people. Without forgiving the offender, you will not easily find the peace you long for.
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are walking in the Spirit, confessing your sins to Him quickly and seeking to walk according to His way in the Bible, you are on the right path. You can know that He is with you in every situation, that He has promised never to leave you nor foresake you. (Hebrews 13:5). His trustworthy character has not changed, and nothing can separate you from His love. (Romans 8:38-39).
He is also your Good Shepherd who will lead you to that which He has planned for you. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, He is there to comfort you. (Psalm 23:4).
Be assured that Jesus, Himself, has been praying for you as your Great High Priest, just as He had prayed for Peter that he would not lose his faith. Ultimately, the Lord says that He will make all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Mountain tops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.
– Billy Graham
Just walk with the Father
“…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20). Whether this year was mostly spent in the valley or on the mountain top, you can thank the Father for all of it, because you know that He has your best interests at heart.
Every believer experiences seasons of breakthrough. When you are in such a season, there may be someone who envies you. Just keep walking in humility, because seasons of breakthrough are God’s grace upon us. Also, take extra care to pray for and encourage those who are still surrounded by struggles.
If you are in the valley and see the easy progress of someone on the mountain top, rejoice with them and don’t give in to jealousy or bitterness. Don’t compare yourself to others, but be content in all circumstances and put your expectation in God alone. When Peter compared himself to the disciple John, Jesus said to him: “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” (John 21:22).
Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulations, but that we can take heart because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33). This means that all of us can expect difficult times at some point, but that in Him we can have peace and in Him we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37).
Fix your eyes on Jesus and run your race with perseverance. He will be with you every step of the way and in the end the genuineness of your faith will bring God praise, honour and glory. (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139: 7-10).
Whether on the mountain top or in the valley, remember that God is with you. He is Jehovah Shammah, the LORD who is there. So, just keep on walking with your Father.