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Faith in the Valley

I was lying on the back seat of the Plymouth Valiant and the pain in my neck from a recent biopsy was rather acute. My mother and older brother were driving me from Pennsylvania to California where at Stanford they had the most experience and best success at treating Hodgkin’s Disease which had been diagnosed from that biopsy. It was dark and conversation had lagged. A song by Dottie Rambo began going through my mind.

This is my valley, I will not complain.
I know it’s good for me to suffer tears and pain
This is my valley, I will do my best
To face each trial and test,
For this is my valley.

I considered the situation. This was out of my hands. I had done nothing to bring on the disease and I was following doctor’s recommendation for treatment. So I turned the song into a prayer. If the Lord allowed it, He could take me through it.
And He did. After weeks of radiation and then months of chemotherapy and multiplied prayers of the saints, the doctors felt I was cured of the disease. Forty- four years ago I learned a lesson on trusting God in the valley.

There are all sorts of valleys we go through that require us to trust God. Abraham was one hundred years old and still did not have the child of promise that he longed for. Yet he had the promise and he exemplified faith operating in unusual circumstances. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

We face many valleys of difficulty in life. Family hurts, church divisions, personal weaknesses, strong temptations, money problems, job challenges, health concerns, and a host of other things can be sore trials of our faith.

Jesus had strong trials to overcome. Temptation in the wilderness, a desire to turn from the bitter cup He was facing as He prayed in the garden, the possibility of calling 10,000 angels to His rescue, loving His tormenters as they mocked and spit on Him, and other great pressures for Him to bail out of the whole salvation scene. But He was strong in His desire to please the Father. He endured the shame. He endured the pain. He yielded Himself to death on the cross. He loved us and gave Himself for us. And He overcame death itself, for after He was buried, He rose again on the third day.

It is because Jesus died and rose again that we have hope when we go through our valleys. He has prayed for us. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us. The Father loves us. And Jesus said He will not forsake us. What a comfort to know that He will keep us even in the deepest valley. Like the apostle Paul, we can be “persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). We commit the saving of our souls to Him. We commit the cleansing of our hearts to Him. We commit our whole lives to Him. He is able to keep all that we have committed. And we can commit ourselves to Him when we face the deepest valley.

I am now facing “the valley of the shadow of death.” The doctors on my case suspect that the rare cancer that took my voice and my ability to eat or drink without a feeding tube was caused by all the radiation I had over four decades ago.
After surgeries and many months of chemotherapy the medical field has exhausted their options for treatment. Hence, hospice.

Facing the experience of death has often been likened to crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. That metaphor has been used often in gospel songs. Songs like “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone,” “I Am Bound for the Promised Land” which begins with the phrase “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand…”, “Roll Jordan Roll,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” which contains the verse, “I looked over Jordan and what did I see…A band of angels comin’ after me.”

None of us has ever experienced death, so we don’t know what it will be like. Perhaps that is why it is referred to as the chilly Jordan. It is the darkness of the unknown. It is the last enemy that Jesus will defeat. But that is not the end. The apostle affirmed “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15b). For the believer that is wonderful news. With the chilly Jordan behind, there is the Promised Land. Jordan’s stormy banks give way to heaven’s fair and happy land.

It is because of this great hope that Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Jesus has been preparing us a place and He wants to receive us so that we can be with Him.

Naturally we want to hold on to life. I do. My father-in-law used to say, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but not today.” So we hold our lives dearly. We want to live. But inevitably, death will come. “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). That is a sobering thought. Everyone will one day stand before God. Death is not the end for anyone. There will be a judgment of the just and the unjust. What hope is there?

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” wrote the songwriter. “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” At the judgment we will find Jesus a strong foundation, a solid rock, a precious hiding place.

Life is uncertain, at best. But the promise of eternal life to all who believe is as certain as the word of God. It is in the promises of God’s word that I rest my hope.
Jesus is my Lord and Savior. What a place to hide when on Jordan’s stormy banks!

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:9-13)

Comments(15)

  1. Reply
    D. Bozone says

    What an inspiration! Thank you, Brother Dave for sharing with us. To know that God’s presence and strength goes with us brings encouragement and confidence that God Almighty will be with us! We are supporting you and your family in prayers.

  2. Reply
    Pastor Rick says

    Your testimony in the valley is an incredible witness to the triumph of living faith! Remember Bonhoeffer’s last words to his friend Captain Payne Best, “This is the end–for me, the beginning of life.” Be assured of our love and prayers. Meet me at the Gate!

  3. Reply
    John weaver says

    Thanks Dave! Very encouraging!

  4. Reply
    Charlene Hood says

    What a beautiful testimony!!

  5. Reply
    Linda LeBaron says

    This was very helpful and makes the future bright!! God’s hand is always holding us up in good times and bad. Praise His name!!

  6. Reply
    Sharon Beets says

    Beautiful Words of Life!! There is so much love on this side and so much on the other side!! May God ride with you…!!

  7. Reply
    jtdalglish says

    Hi Dave,

    I have just found you a few days ago at Hobe Sound site. I am Julie Theobald. My husband and I heard your final sermon online a couple of days ago, so I knew that you are ill. He is not a believer. I am praying for you. (We need prayer too. Also, Rex.)
    Thank you for your post. I’m not on facebook so I didn’t have an update till today. You are such an inspiration, and I want to thank you for your obedience in preaching the Word and in your godly example.
    I know you are being held in His everlasting and loving arms.

    Julie T. Dalglish

    • Reply
      Janice Gordeuk says

      Julie, I will add you to my prayer list! I pray regularly for Rex! He has a special place in our heart. I just got a book on prayer, Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. It is very good – about persistent prayer for our needs! So glad to hear from you.

    • Reply
      Victor Gordeuk says

      Julie, It is an encouragement to read your message. Our family will pray for your husband and Rex in our devotions this evening. Victor Gordeuk

  8. Reply
    Judy McIntosh says

    Thank you, Dave, for this timely word. Such an encouragement that we won’t have to cross Jordan alone. Your writings are wonderful.

  9. Reply
    Janet (Kramer ) Bosworth says

    Uncle Cecil was a very wise man . I pray for you to have peace and comfort knowing there is something better waiting for you cancer free and singing the praises of our dear Lord

  10. Reply
    Sharonda says

    Thank you so much for these words! It was needed today! “Let not your heart be troubled …” I’m trusting God!

  11. Reply
    Wanda Greenwood says

    Thank you, Brother Dave, for sharing your testimony of God’s grace and your faith in His promises during this time in your life. It gives me renewed strength in Him. We’ve been praying for you and your family and will continue.

  12. Reply
    Esther Straight says

    Our Dear Family Friend, Brother Dave,
    How beautiful that our dear Jesus has “passed through the heavens” ahead of you! He has cast the anchor on your behalf.It surely is there, “within the veil!” You have inspired me to keep running my race with patience.Thank you! May the sweet fragrance of Jesus’ nearness fill your room and steady your gaze as you run to Him!
    Our love to and your family, Esther (Hobbs) Straight

  13. Reply
    Ken Willard says

    Thank you, Dave, for reminding us of those Wonderful Words of Life. Amen and Amen!

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