living in the valley

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121

By and large life is lived in the valley, even in sometimes dark and hard places, but what is often called “the daily grind.” That is why experiences in the high places, in the mountaintops of experience are often always remembered. They may include vacations or high and holy days such as one’s wedding. But by and large, it’s just another day.

And yet everyday can be imbued with the high in the low, that is from the Most High God stooping down not only to behold heaven and earth, but to enter into life with us through Jesus, God-with-us, Emmanuel, and by the Spirit who lives among and even in us. In the valley we can look to the mountains not only to receive help, but in some sense to be living something of that mountaintop existence even in the low, difficult places of life.

I do that to some extent by constantly being in the word, insofar as I can, seeking to meditate on it day and night, and from that being in prayer and good works. Of course there are times when that’s impossible. Passages I’ve memorized are good to go over then. Of course prayerfully, since we’re talking about God’s written word.

There are times in our lives of deep disappointment when we feel especially low. Those are times when we need to look up all the more “to the mountains, from where our help comes from.” God seems to keep us in a tension of some difficulty so that we are reminded of our need of him. And how life is meant to be lived in the low, difficult places. Yes, during times when we feel nothing of the Divine. Even then God is present with us, just as he was with Jesus on the cross, even when Jesus, feeling forsaken, prayed the words of Psalm 22. God is with us even in the deepest darkness (Psalm 23). He never forsakes his own.

And so we need to get on with life, looking to God always, being in his word, the heartbeat of it the good news, the gospel in and through Jesus. For us and through us into the real world in which we live.

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