I love the song, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. I especially like the line, “Let me be singing when the evening comes.” I’m not sure what I previously thought it meant, but as we sang it Sunday during worship, its meaning in that moment became clear.
In the previous weeks, something had been building. April was financially stressful for sure. April was also busy. However, it wasn’t all bad. God certainly provided all kinds of extras for us to enjoy. Last week though, it all seemed to fall down. I was hurting and very sad. There were several events that just were all compounded together. A family member was dying, I was feeling alone and unimportant and the anniversary of Emma’s Type 1 diagnosis was soon. I was taking all of this so much harder than I expected. And on some level, I was thinking that I shouldn’t be feeling this way at all.
So here I found myself with all this sadness that I didn’t think I deserved to feel. I kept trying to reason myself out of it. I found myself cornered and instead of turning to God I tried to tell myself that I really had no reason to feel this way. I tried to confess my sadness away. I tried to will myself to be thankful and grateful. I did everything except face the sadness with God. I came up with a million reasons why what I was feeling was wrong and it only made things worse. I just became angry and withdrawn. I was always two thoughts from tears. But God in His infinite patience persisted.
Nehemiah 8:10 says, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” I love joy, especially in God. There is nothing more beautiful and intoxicating than the exquisite joy found in Him. There is so much joy found in celebration of all He is. However, sometimes I can’t get to that place. Sometimes joy doesn’t look like a celebration. Sometimes joy is quiet. In those times that joy is absolutely your strength. When my heart is heavy and hurting, I absolutely need both His joy and strength. I have learned through suffering and loss that joy doesn’t always look like what we think it should.
Sometimes joy is just knowing He is there with you in the valley. Sometimes joy is knowing that He is with you at your darkest and your lowest. Sometimes joy comes first thing in the morning when you know He will walk with you through the same struggle today that He did yesterday. Sometimes joy is knowing that eventually He will lead you through to the other side. Sometimes joy is just knowing that He is faithful to use whatever horrible place you are in for good. Sometimes joy is knowing He brought you through another day and there is relief in your last thoughts before you fall asleep. And so many times joy is knowing that He doesn’t shy away from our hurts but walks into them willingly. Through all of that comes strength.
His provision in the valleys is even more abundant than when times are good. Sometimes His provision is a friend who texts you with just the right words that say you aren’t alone. Sometimes His provision is a husband who knows you are hurting and sets aside time to hold you while you cry. Sometimes His provision are the people He has placed in your life- family and friends who remind you that the road you are on is tough and its ok to be broken and sad. Sometimes His provision is another person in front of you to serve so that your heart can be distracted from your hurt for just a little while. His provision is always himself.
Sometimes celebration isn’t hoopla and dancing. Sometimes celebration is a quiet, sobbing surrender. Sometimes celebration comes as you stop resisting the grace that’s being offered to you and instead relinquish the iron grip on your composure. Sometimes celebration is the widening cracks in the walled-off parts of your heart finally giving way as the damn breaks free. And often celebration is being able to sing at the end of yet another day.
Let me be singing when the evening comes despite this valley. Let me be singing because God and I have journeyed another day together and I’m not alone. Let me be singing, even if it is a song of lament because it means that for this day the battle over bitterness has been won. Let me be singing because in this moment my heart is not hard and turned away from Him. Let me be singing because I know that those are no small victories but a reason to be thankful that He has rescued me from myself again.
I have learned that the valleys aren’t to be avoided and fought. I have learned that they are a part of a life in a broken place full of broken people. I have learned so much about the character and nature of God as He has walked with me through these places. And I know I will see so much more when I am on the other side and look back over the places we walked together. I will be able to see even more clearly His strength and provision through the toughest places. I pray that my foolish heart won’t walk so long in circles the next time, thinking I can make it out on my own. And I pray that each day I will be singing when the evening comes.