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Life can be so full of ups and downs, mountains and valleys. We can be up on the mountaintop one minute and then down in the valley the next. It can change in a split second.
I know that happened for me this past summer when I had a stroke. I was hanging out with my kids one minute, the next I was climbing onto my bed talking incoherently.
So how do we as Christians turn to God when we are going through the mountains and valleys in life?
Hills and Valleys
I live in beautiful Northwestern Connecticut in the Northwest Hills (we call them the Litchfield Hills or the Highlands).
We are surrounded by the most beautiful scenery; the rushing waters of the Farmington River, where you can find people in their waders in the coldest weather out there fly fishing.
What always captures my attention though are those hills. I can see them from my backyard in the winter if I look through the trees. The leaves cover them up in summer. But once you turn out of my driveway, there they are right in front of you!
I have hiked up Haystack Mountain and enjoyed looking down at the valley below. It made me think about being on the mountaintop and how hard I had to work to get there.
But yet getting down was simple. It didn’t take as much effort. The mountains and valleys of our lives and in our faith walk are kind of similar.
When it comes to mountains and valleys, we often work hard for those mountaintops don’t we? We work at our jobs, our marriages, our parenting.
We want to enjoy life and being on that mountaintop…it’s fun! Getting there is tough but it’s fun to be up there.
When we are up on that mountain, it is easy to give God praise isn’t it? We find it easier to thank Him when we are up there just enjoying the view!
Everything is easier up there! Our work goes well, we have no health issues, our marriage is happy. So why wouldn’t we praise God on the mountaintop?
But then life happens and we find ourselves no longer on the mountain.
We are no longer up above the mess, we are IN it. The valley is where we look at that mountain and see it’s an obstacle to overcome.
It hurts. It’s uncomfortable.
That hospital visit. That loss of a loved one. That job that is no longer there. The child that rebelled. The marriage falling apart.
We have all these things that we now go through in the valley that are things we have to get past. The mountain is no longer the place of praise and happiness; it is now the things that stand in our way.
There is a song from Hillsong Worship called Highlands (Song of Ascent). I of course connect to it because I live in the Highlands, but it has a line that says:
I will praise you on the mountain and I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way. You’re the summit where my feet are, so I will praise you in the valleys all the same.
Such an easy song to sing and it makes me raise my hands in worship every time we sing it at church.
But while it is easy to sing, it is not quite as easy to walk out the door and live it, is it?
I will praise you on the mountain!
Ok as I said, easy enough! Who finds it tough to praise God when things are good?? Not many!
I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way.
Ok, now THAT is not so easy.
Mountains and Valleys to Go Through
See, being ON the mountain is a great thing. But staring that mountain in the face? Not so much.
There have been many mountains and valleys in my own life these days, especially mountains in my way! They all have names:
Debt From Not Being Able to Work
Death of Friends
Death of Our Beloved Pet
These are all my mountains! It may seem odd that I have “names” for them. Oh there are more too! But I name them for a reason.
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. NIV
Now I can tell you that, from studying this verse, the word mountain here in the Greek means…mountain.
It literally refers to a physical mountain so it is not used symbolically here to represent something else. It is not allegory. It is a mountain!
The word for speak to here in this verse is the Greek word eipon and it means to command, to call…it is to speak to something not in a chatting manner but in a commanding manner.
Command the mountain to be removed from its place, to be cast into the sea.
I name my mountains so I can command my mountains, each one by name.
I commanded my stroke to be moved, and it was. I was fully recovered from a full ischemic stroke in just over a month.
I was reading and writing in Hebrew (which, for those who don’t know, is read and written right to left and not left to right) the same week I came home from the hospital so I could work my brain out!
I made sure I moved that mountain out of my way so I could focus on God and healing. No, I couldn’t command the stroke itself to move. It already happened. And sometimes our situations happen either because we make certain decisions or through the actions of others.
But we can move the mountain that grows up out of it to block our path to God.
I commanded Stroke to move (meaning its effects) and it moved.
And your mountains can be moved too. Because it is not necessarily the problem that will move but the way the problem blocks us from our joy and our hope and our relationship with God. THAT is the true mountain.
We will all go through tough times. That much is certain. But we can make a decision to speak to those mountains and remove them from our presence so we can focus on the mountain maker!
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” ESV
How Do You Learn to Worship Him Through the Mountains and Valleys?
You can learn to worship and praise God whether on the mountaintop or whether you are low and in the valley. Our mountains and valleys are under His command so focus on Him and not what is in your way!
- Prayer – Speak to the Lord about how you feel. Be honest about your feelings. He already knows anyway. I have had to tell Him I’ve got nothing left and will sit in His presence. He WANTS you to tell Him how you feel. He wants you to bring your burdens to Him. It is where you will gain the faith and the strength to be a mountain mover!
- Godly Counsel – Speak to a trusted friend or a pastor about what you are going through. Many times, people can offer you advice that you just don’t see yourself at the time because you’re too close to the situation. And if not, you will have someone to pray with you!
- Study the Word – I know the last thing I feel like doing when I am in the valley is stopping and reading the Word. You feel like you just can’t get your mind off your issues long enough to read but take the time to just BE in His presence. He WILL speak to you through the pages of that book! He will give you comfort and direction through it. So don’t look at it like reading a novel, look at it like you are running into Daddy’s arms and asking Him for help!
- Listen to Praise and Worship – It’s a little hard to stay feeling low when you are praising God. Remember, Paul and Silas praised Him in the prison singing hymns while shackled and beaten and the prison shook and ALL the captives were freed. There IS power in praise!
- Don’t Skip Church – Do not underestimate how powerful being in church can be! There have been so many times I have sat down and the message seemed to be directed right at me, or the music was spot on! You need church in both the mountains and valleys! Church is like going to the hospital when you’re sick. When we are sick, we don’t wait until we feel better to go to the hospital. We go when we feel bad or hurt. Well, church is the hospital for your spiritual health so don’t wait until you FEEL better! Go TO feel better! Get prayer! Get a hug!
- Name That Mountain!! Speak to each and every mountain in your way and command it the way the Word tells you to! But remember, sometimes it is not the problem itself that is the mountain. Sometimes the mountain is our reaction to the problem. Remember the song! “I will praise you on the mountain and I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way”. Praise Him in ALL our circumstances! It doesn’t say praise Him FOR all of our circumstances, it says to praise Him IN them!
- Express Gratitude – Be thankful for your blessings. We can easily forget all God does for us when we are in the mountains and valleys! But keeping a gratitude journal can help remind you of all He does in your life and all you have to be thankful for.
What ways have you found to keep your eyes focused on Him in the mountains and valleys? Share with us in the comments!
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Highlands (Song of Ascent) – Songwriters: Benjamin William Hastings, Joel Timothy Houston Highlands (Song Of Ascent) lyrics © CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
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