Through The Valley| Reacting


When we go through physical pain, we have a natural reflex – to react to that pain! Many times this is expressed with loud cries such as, “Ouch!” or other choice words that need no explanation. Our reaction communicates to others that we are hurting… and that we need help! Regardless of your pain threshold, it takes a degree of self-control and realization that the pain will lessen, and depending on the injury itself, that it will get better over time.

Similarly, when we are going through the valley, it can be easy for others to take notice that we are struggling. It’s not so much that they can see it on our faces rather than what comes out of our mouths. Like physical pain, it can be natural to react when things are not going as planned. We can be fed up and negatively react when we feel we have been traversing through the valley long enough. Our times of trial reveal how we REALLY feel and our attitude speaks for us. As Jesus said, “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” – Matthew 12:34 (NLT).

As we continue our 3 part series of ‘Through the Valley’ (please read for part 1), there’s an awareness that we all have moments where we feel stuck in the valley. There’s the reality that, if we are seeking God, then there are still things we are waiting for. How do our words and our attitudes reveal where our heart is? Perhaps the Lord is leading us through a particular valley to get a heart check-up!

We’ve looked at how Elijah went from the mountaintop to the valley in a blink of any eye; he lost his gaze off of the One who is in control and continued to feed his fear:

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” – 1 Kings 19:3-5a

What do we notice about Elijah’s reaction?

  • He reacted in fear and ran for his life
  • He isolated himself from his servant (and society)
  • He believed in the sense of failure he was feeling
  • He prayed that he would die

Wow, Elijah! Wait a minute… wasn’t this the man who called fire down from Heaven? The feared prophet of God that spoke to kings? Isn’t this the same Elijah that we read about who was carried up to Heaven? Yep, the same guy.

I appreciate this account of Scripture, for it reminds us that Elijah is human. He had doubts, weaknesses, and flaws yet was used in a mighty way. While this may not be the example to follow in the valley, his reaction can help us evaluate how we act or react while we are still in the valley.

It’s time for some processing – how are you currently reacting in your particular valley?

  • Start complaining to others when we think of the issue
  • Dwell in our own sorrows when we’re alone
  • Become cynical, thinking we’ll always be in the valley
  • Run towards temporary, worldly pleasures to numb the pain
  • Isolate ourselves from the world and people we love
  • Think less of ourselves, not how God actually sees us

When we become fixated on our frailties, failures, and fears, it’s very possible we are prone to the list above. Yet God has another plan for us! The Lord desires to meet us in the valley… Can we appreciate, see, and take the provision He has for us while STILL in the valley?

This is exactly what happens with Elijah:

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.” –  1 Kings 19:5b-6

The Lord met Elijah where he was. Out of everything we would think Elijah needed at that moment, he receives food, water, and a nap. The Lord brought about physical sustenance since that is what he needed at that very moment.

I love this because many times we don’t realize that this is what God will do for us. We think instead that He will rebuke us or reprimand us for doing something dumb or reacting foolishly. We can picture God as a drill sergeant barking more orders at us. We even hope at that moment that our request will be answered… but maybe the timing is ‘not yet!’

Remember, the Lord’s provision can come in a variety of ways. For example, God might provide us with a person or a community to journey with us through the valley. Yes, God can use people (just as he used an angel for Elijah) to be HIS provision. As mentioned above, one of the mistakes Elijah made was isolating himself. It’s imperative for us to not try to battle in our own strength but to rely on others as part of God’s provision. This list can include a counselor, therapist, friend, family member, Pastor, church leader or life group (church group). I’d strongly recommend to reach out to someone you can trust, especially if you are having thoughts as Elijah had.

The truth is, the Lord cares not only about your destination, but the journey it takes to get there. If the ultimate destination is the mountaintop – the Lord’s Presence – then He is not going to forsake you for the sake of that goal. He cares about you too much to leave you in the valley!

Since Jesus cares about your journey, He’ll use the valley, the dry season, the prolonged wait, that specific difficulty to shape who you are meant to become – a more accurate representation of Christ. As sons and daughters, the Holy Spirit wants you to represent Jesus Christ in character (the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23), in words (as an ambassador – 2 Corinthians 5:20), and in attitude (For example, humility as mentioned in Philippians 2:5-11). Many times, these valleys are used as opportunities to position you for this necessary transformation that can only be done through the pain, the suffering, and the long-stretched valleys!

Which leads us to the difficult question we should ask God while in the valley, “What are you trying to teach me in this season of life?” Is it…  

  • Provision – to lean on the Lord in lean times?
  • Patience – to have a heart that trusts in God & not trying to make it happen in your own way?
  • Purpose – preparation for the bigger picture God has for you? God has something greater in mind than what you can imagine.
  • Persistence – developing an unwavering faith? It could also be learning how to be consistent in what you know so you can be faithful with more.

I hope that you find time to focus on what was mentioned above. First, how are you currently reacting to ‘the valley’ in which you are walking? Second, what is the Lord trying to teach you as you walk through ‘the valley’? While the reaction and the lesson may not be connected with your particular destination, I do believe that the Holy Spirit wants to bring about transformation in your life before you reach it. It’s true! We are a work in progress, but that does not mean that He will leave us in the valley to figure it out on ourselves.

Next week, I’ll finish my thoughts on the valley in comparison to Elijah’s journey up the mountain.



  1. Hey, Nathan. This is John Quinn from Twitter.
    Incredibly, this article was put in my life like manna from heaven. I want to write a full account to you somehow.
    I am 69, retired divorced, 3 sons, 1 daughter. My daughter has been keeping my wonderful 3 grandkids from me. It started when I attempted to bring attention her and husbands drinking. Talk about a woman scorned!!! I don’t know anyone like her: viscous, vindictive, jealous, cold.
    Total opposite to my caretaking nature. I was a medic, and then 12 years Infantry, but never lost my true caretaking nature.
    John W Quinn
    Long Beach, Mississippi

    • Hey John! I’m thrilled that you can across this post as perfect timing for you. God definitely has the best timing, doesn’t he?
      I’m so sorry that you have not been able to see your grandkids. In moments like these, it seems like the only thing available to do is to pray for her and her husband. Perhaps there is more to distance and the Lord can bring healing to that hurt. I’ll be praying for you, for them, and for an opportunity to arise so that you can see your grandkids. Thank you for sharing!

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