The Valley of Baca is translated The Valley of Weeping and though I suppose it signifies a geographic place, I also think of this “valley of tears” as a soul-place.
All of us will have those circumstances and events that will bring our soul’s into this sorrowful place. Loss is a part of life none of us can avoid. Neither can we avoid the shadows that come with it. (We can try of course.) We can valiantly attempt to bury it, or outrun it, or deny it, but grief won’t be ignored forever. Eventually it will assert it’s domain.
I have grieved many times in my life. The deaths of my parents. The loss of cherished relationships. The crash of my health. That “halocaust experience” I wrote about earlier. In each journey through this valley of weeping I have to tell you, they were not all the same.
Grief is strange stuff. Not one of these trips through loss was the same. All were different.
I wonder now if that was because there were different lessons to be learned each time. Grief, like a kaliedoscope, held the same bits of broken glass each time, yet with each slight turning the light and shadows would shift and fall in different patterns, revealing beautiful and distinctly different things for my eyes view.
Sometimes these views simply arrested me. Taking me captive for a time against my will. But even in my captivity I began to learn. The value of rest; of stepping aside from the mad rush of life for a time of communion, just God and myself.
Then there were the times, when with brutal realities, grief taught valuable lessons about people. About where I should, and should not, place my trust.
Perhaps this is what the psalmist was trying to convey when he said,
“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! They will grow constantly in strength…” [TLB]
Grief is a harsh school-master. Yes, but I eventually came to understand the real value in her harsh lessons. I began to see the depth of character birthed by pain rightly borne. Truly, sorrows are the birth pangs of a deeper, richer life. Hope for others flows from such places.
It makes me think of the lines of the poem by Robert Browning Hamilton:
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.
THE VALLEY OF BACA
These days will soon be over, and shall I tell you something?
(It will surprise you.)
You are going to greatly miss this time of sorrow and suffering?
There, that’s got your attention!
You dream of getting your freedom of movement back; of days when you can feel “normal” again. (All your thoughts are open to Me child.) But I AM here today to tell you that you are going to miss these quiet days, when all the world was just we two.
I confess, I will miss them more than you.
This journey through the Valley of Baca has been difficult for you. (I know.) Especially those first weeks. There was more confusion than peace, and joy seemed to be dressed in black crepe. Still… you must admit, after things settled down a bit, after you began to get in step with Me…
After we developed this habit of making, of those tears of yours, a wayside well…
It became quite pleasant in places, didn’t it? And you must also admit, that though we had been close friends, our friendship has deepened and grown richer through the things you’ve suffered.
Yes. All in all, it has been a highly satisfactory journey!
And, I will say it again, you’re going to miss these days. Ah, but never mind. We must be up and going.
We have to be about the Father’s business, you and I.
“Let your favor shine again upon your servant…” Psalms 31:16