Keep Digging in the Valley
There’s a popular quote that is commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. It says, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’d like to humbly add to that statement. If you live long enough, life will certainly be filled with ups and downs. There will be days that are filled with sunshine where you’re floating on cloud 9, and there will be dark and cloudy days that are filled with rain. There will be moments where you are seated atop the mountain and moments where you find yourself thrown down in the valley.
It's during these low moments of life when it becomes hard to see things clearly. Being low literally limits your perspective. The rain decreases your mobility. All while, the fogginess of the valley hampers your visibility. Sometimes we become so focused on our surroundings and conditions that it’s hard to look forward toward a brighter day. The circumstance muscles its way and snatches hold of our perspective and tries to outweigh the perspective of hope.
If you or someone you know is in the valley during this season and can’t see the forest from the trees, I want to encourage you that there is hope and God has a word for you. One beautiful thing about God is that He is with us anywhere we go and in any situation. In Psalm 139:7-10, the psalmist wrote:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up
into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the
wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy
hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
This means that we can call upon the Lord in any situation. Let’s examine a perfect example of this by looking at a part of Isaac’s story.
In Genesis 26, we learn that there is a famine, so Isaac travels to Gerar, which is the land of the Philistines and king Abimelech. God instructs him to remain there and not go to Egypt. Initially, Isaac had a hiccup with the Philistines when he told them that his wife was his sister, in an effort to preserve his life. After that was resolved, the scriptures say that God began to bless Isaac prosperously in that land:
Genesis 26:12-13 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold:
and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
In less than one year, Isaac has seen his efforts increase times one hundred. He is sitting atop the mountain and everything is going great. Isaac is now rich in flocks, herds, and servants. During this season, he has everything that he could imagine. Keep in mind, that all of this is happening after he fled a famine, so Isaac is abundantly blessed. However, Isaac eventually runs into an issue:
Genesis 26:14-17 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great
store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants
had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled
them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than
we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
We see that Isaac is envied by the Philistines because of his favor and success. The Philistines go as far as to fill up the wells that were dug by his father, Abraham. Spiritually, this represents the enemy throwing dirt on your situation and attempting to hinder the progress and promises that God has made in your life. Followers of Christ are a part of the Kingdom of God and are at war with the kingdom of darkness. This spiritual warfare brings about antagonists who aim to throw dirt on our lives. The enemy will throw dirt on your name, your workplace, your family, your marriage, your destiny, or any other place where they can try to stop you up and make you regress.
Additionally, Isaac is now evicted out of the area where he settled and finds himself in the valley of Gerar. Spiritually, this represents when things are going well and all of a sudden there is a fall. These low parts of life are even harder when you are coming from a season of being on top of the mountain. This is a challenging place to be, but the word of God tells us how Isaac responds in this situation which should be motivation to all of us:
Genesis 26:18-22 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in
the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of
Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.
And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And
the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he
called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. And they digged another
well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. And he removed from
thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it
Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in
Isaac could have spiraled into a state of depression. He could have given up and decided not to do the work that his father had accomplished. He could have thrown in the towel. Instead, he decides to keep digging. Spiritually, Isaac renaming the wells the same thing that his father called them represents holding onto God’s promises. Even when Isaac keeps digging and finds success, the enemy still comes and contends with him. Despite this, Isaac was determined to be persistent and not give in. He decided to dig through the grime and the dirt and the gunk and fight for what was rightfully his. He was contested multiple times, but eventually, the Lord blessed him and made room for him.
There’s one final lesson that we learn from Isaac. Isaac and his camp then went on to Beersheba (his birthplace) and dug another hole and Isaac built an altar to the Lord. While he was there, Abimelech and two of his peers approach Isaac. Isaac was confused because he thought that Abimelech and the Philistines hated him. They came to make peace with him because, even though they were at odds with him, they knew that he was a man of God. Isaac had the option to hold a grudge against the people who had antagonized him or to make peace with them. Isaac made the decision to make peace with his enemy and we see the results of this decision were immediate:
Genesis 26:31-32 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another:
and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. And it came to pass the
same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged,
and said unto him, We have found water.
What we should take away is simple. If you find yourself in the valley, don’t give up, but keep digging. We dig by pressing into God, fasting, praying, praising, worshiping, and seeking His face. We dig by conducting ourselves in a Godly manner by loving and forgiving our enemies. The results of our digging will be rivers of living water. God is so loving and kind that he even makes provision for us in the low points of our lives. The Lord Jesus Christ knew that this world would present us with challenges, but He encouraged us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” God promises in His word to be there for us. He said that when the enemy comes in like a flood, He will lift up a standard (Isaiah 59:19). God promises to keep us in perfect peace if we keep our eyes on him (Isaiah 26:3). We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. So, my encouragement to you is that when you are in the valleys of life, focus on God (faith) and not on your circumstance (sight), and most of all, keep digging!