The Valley of Fruitfulness

By Francis Frangipane

The battles we face are often intense times of weakness, distress and confusion. If the events of our lives were charted upon a graph, these would be the lowest points. Yet, God is no less with us during difficulties than at other times. In fact, these valleys are often as much the plan of God as our mountaintop experiences.

There is a story in the Bible which speaks plainly to this truth. Israel had recently defeated the Arameans in a mountain battle. In 1 Kings, chapter 20, we read,
Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel, and said to him, "Go, strengthen yourself and observe and see what you have to do; for at the turn of the year the king of Aram will come up against you."

Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, "Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." 1 Kings 20:22-23

The enemy said that the God of Israel was a god of the mountains, but if they fought the Jews in the valleys they would defeat them. We read in verse 28,

Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel and said, "Thus says the Lord, 'Because the Arameans have said, "The Lord is a god of the mountains, but He is not a god of the valleys"; therefore, I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'" 1 Kings 20:28

No matter what the enemy tries to tell you, Christ is God of the mountains and God of the valleys. He has not stopped being God because you happen to be in a valley. He is the God of glory, as seen in His power and miracles. And in the valleys, He reveals Himself as faithful, loyally committed to us in our difficulties and distresses. In all things and through all things, He is our God.

When we are on the "mountaintops" of our Christian experience, we can see our future clearly. We have perspective and confidence. However, when we are in one of life's valleys, our vision is limited and our future seems hidden. Yet, valleys are also the most fertile places on earth. Valleys produce fruitfulness. You can expect there to be a harvest of virtue when God dwells with you in the valleys.

The Highway to Zion
"How blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring" (Ps. 84:5-6). Baca means "weeping." Each of us has times of weeping when our hearts and hopes seem crushed. However, because God has placed in our hearts "highways to Zion," we pass through valleys; we do not live in them.

"Passing through the valley of Baca . . ." Once we are on the other side of weeping, our Redeemer makes it "a spring." The very things which overwhelmed us will, in time, refresh us with new life. Whether we are experiencing the height of success and power or are in a valley of weakness and despair, the Lord is our God continually!

Has the enemy isolated you, causing you to doubt God's love? Do not forget, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He cares. It is His love for us that redeems our hardships, which not only brings good out of what was meant for evil but also trains us to deliver others.

How did Jesus prepare to do wonderful works? Part of His training involved suffering. Christ was a man of sorrows; He was One who was acquainted with grief. Yet, His suffering was the Father's means of acquainting Him with the actual feelings of mankind's need and pain. Because He suffered what we suffer, He is able to serve as a faithful high priest. If we yield to God's plan for Christ to be formed in us, God will take our sorrows to enlarge our hearts. Once we have been acquainted with grief, we then can be anointed with compassion to deliver others.

Consider Joseph. He was the second youngest of Jacob's sons and his father's favorite. His walk with God began with dreams and visions. Joseph's life is a pattern for many who have had a genuine call from God. Our walk with God may also have begun with a "travel brochure" of dreams and visions: God gives us a picture of His destination for us. What we do not see is how His promises will come to pass in our lives.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and delivered up by them to die. He was unjustly accused when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him. He was imprisoned and forgotten by all except God, who was patiently watching and measuring Joseph's reactions to difficulty.

Rich or poor, blessed or smitten, Joseph served God. He was being tested, but he continued to pass his tests. Joseph was on trial before men, but he was found innocent before God.

Finally, at the right moment, the Lord suddenly connected all the loose ends of Joseph's life. Everything that Joseph went through would have seemed cruel and unfair, except that the Lord was shaping a man for His purpose. God uses everything we go through for future purposes that He alone sees. We do not see His ultimate plan while we are in the valley; we must remember the vision, keeping faith in what God has promised.

Just as He allowed Joseph to go through many trials, so He allows us to go through great conflicts as well. For He knows that our lives--yes, what we have become through His grace--will help others find the stronghold of God in their lives.

"And Joseph named the first-born Manasseh, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household'" (Gen. 41:51). God caused Joseph to forget the difficulty and pain of his life. There is something wonderful about the Lord's capacity to cause all things to work for good. With Jesus in our lives, a time ultimately comes when God causes us to forget all the troubles of the past.

"And he named the second Ephraim, 'For,' he said, 'God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'" (Gen. 41:52). God made him fruitful in the very things that afflicted him. In the land of your affliction, in your battle, is the place where God will make you fruitful. Consider, even now, the area of greatest affliction in your life. In that area God will make you fruitful in such a way that your heart will be fully satisfied and God's heart fully glorified. Ultimately, the Lord will touch many others with the substance of what you have gained. In a world that is superficial, Christ will produce something in you that is deep and living.

God has not promised to keep us from valleys and sufferings, but He has promised to make us fruitful in them. Without doubt, we each will pass through valleys before we reach our final goal in God. As we remain faithful to Him in trials, the character and nature of Christ Jesus shall emerge in our spirits; Christ shall be revealed to those around us. He intends to make your life the key that unlocks God's stronghold for others.

Lord, You are God of the mountains and the valleys. I know that Your faithfulness is my shield and my bulwark. Thank You for redeeming the conflicts of my life; I praise You for healing me and causing me to forget all the trauma of my past.

Now, Lord, help me to not forget what I have learned here. Cause me to remember that the crises in my life always precede the enrichment of my life. Help me to recognize that the place of my fruitfulness is in the land of my affliction. In Jesus' name. Amen.