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Valley of Despair

1982 was not a good year for me! My mom died in February, my ministry was in a shambles. The church I was pastoring was in trouble. I resigned the pastorate with no hope of any place to go. Our finances suffered. My heath suffered. I cried a lot. I was mad at God and told Him so. I would get on my knees and say to God, “I am so angry with you!”

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt that God has deserted you? Did you ever feel like God had gone on vacation and took the checkbook with Him? Have you ever felt hopeless?

Listen to a man who had everything to live with and nothing to live for, King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, “So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind…So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world… So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23-NLT).

At this stage of my life I felt hopeless to correct my situation. In the midst of my despair I wrote this poem:

When your weeping fills the cold night air, and all you can do is sit and stare,

And God can’t be found anywhere. Is this the valley of despair?

When words are painful, even in your prayer, and other’s words sound like a dare,

And the devil has made your house his lair. Is this the valley of despair?

When you sit and sulk in an awful chair, and you don’t even seem to care,

And this may be your worst nightmare. Is this the valley of despair?

Is there any way out of this dark despair? Is there anyone here who can declare

That God’s is here, not over there, in someone else’s deep despair?

Oh friend of mine, you’d best beware, this valley you’re in isn’t rare,’

For many others have journeyed there,

This is the valley of despair.

But, never forget that God is truly in control. If God is God, then nothing happens apart from His knowledge and permission. While it is difficult to imagine why God allows some painful things to happen, He is willing and able to sustain you during the worst of times. “We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8,9). “You keep me going when times are tough—my bedrock, God, since my childhood. I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth, the day you took me from the cradle; I’ll never run out of praise” (Psalm 71:5,6).

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