yellow sunflower and red apple fruits on green table

Thanksgiving

For me, this year has been a journey through many hills and valleys.  Through it all I have been overwhelmed at God’s loving hand through each and every step. While I don’t understand all the God has allowed in my life, I am truly thankful for His grace and mercy that have seen me through and for His miraculous hand bringing about healing and restoration.   

It is a year where I can truly agree with Billy Graham’s words:

“Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.” 

While going through challenges this year I wondered if I would ever gain strength to get out of the valleys.  I wanted so vehemently to have those valleys removed.  Asking the Lord to let me bypass those valleys was my mantra, but not His will.

As I examine these tough circumstances, I truly see how God has worked fruit in me through these hard times.

Job loss was a tough one to deal with.  My teaching career has been a dog’s breakfast of experiences with no true stability – ever.  In my worldly way of thinking, I thought I finally had it made.  I was in a place I loved and I was given a continuous contract.  I relished in the hope of finishing out the last years of teaching career in one location.  I focused on building a comfort zone there.

Having that all turn upside down with the closure of our school was agonizing.  I was in the valley for sure.  As I trudged each day through its mire I wondered if I would ever teach again.  While I was never angry at God for allowing this valley time, I sure didn’t understand it.  I had worked hard and I am a good teacher.  Why the desolation once again?

But there was fruit that needed to grow in my life.  First, though, there were some limbs that needed pruning.  That was painful but I needed to learn that God is the source of my success, not my own efforts.  Things of this world are not reliable – only God is.  I could not and should not put my hopes in earthly successes.  

I did move out of that valley, trusting that God had a place for me to serve Him.  It came in an unexpected place, in His timing.  God, in His wisdom, sensed the longing of my heart and put me back into in-person instruction.  Seeing my students each day and working closely with them is my mountain top inspiration.  I learn so much from them and God has given me an incredible ministry opportunity with these little people.

In the midst of immense thankfulness for being rescued from one valley, I was plunged into another.  This valley was the deepest one I have ever traversed in my lifetime.  My journey through all the uncertainties and fears that a cancer diagnosis brings was a burdensome one.  The despair and anguish were strong and many days overwhelming.  

Yet, fruit did grow in this valley as well.  I learned to rely on God in a way I never had before.  I drew closer to my family and relationships were restored.  A hard lesson for me was to open up myself to God’s people.  Years of reticence was a difficult habit to break, but God clearly showed me that it was time to be open and honest about what has been going on with me.  Abandoning my very private life has opened up many avenues of care and I have truly been blessed by the prayers and love of God’s people through this endeavour.  

The strongest lessons learned in this valley have been those about what really matters in life.  It is about having joy in the Lord, no matter what my circumstances.  It is drawing strength from the Rock of my salvation.

This Thanksgiving I am exceptionally grateful that God has turned this valley of tears into ones of rejoicing.  Being declared cancer free is truly a miracle.  My doctor said my experience is unusual.  But that is God’s way.  My mind is still boggled with the absolute incredibility of it all.  

My life will never be the same because of my sojourn in this latest valley.  My priorities have certainly changed.  My faith life is gaining strength and I have new purpose.  God has preserved my life on this earth for a reason.  What can I do but praise Him with every fiber of my being?

So, this Thanksgiving I am thankful for the valleys of this past year.  They have changed me and helped me grow into a stronger, more vibrant Christian with a greater passion to share my faith wherever God gives me opportunity.

What valleys can you give thanks for this Thanksgiving?  Hold fast to our loving God who never leaves you and who walks alongside or carries you through the valleys of life.  He will bring you through.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” 

(Psalm 43:5)

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