Those who will not praise God when things are going well are certainly not likely to praise God when things are not going well.
However, this is exactly what is needed most when we pass through the “Valley of Baca” as referenced in Psalm 84. The Valley of Baca or “Valley of Weeping,” refers to the various difficulties that one might face on a pilgrimage. The rest of the verse says they “make it a spring” and they go from “strength to strength.” When we continue to praise God and meditate and focus on Him and His promises even in great trials, disappointments and challenges, even the sorrowful and painful valleys in our lives can become covered with pools of God’s blessings (verse 6). Sadness, depression, and suffering can drain life and strength right out of us. But through our continued praise from thankful hearts that remain focused on Who God is, His faithfulness, His promises, and His limitless love and power, we can pass through, and we will be stronger (going from “strength to strength” – Psalm 84:7). This does not happen without first having our hearts set on Jesus and then consistently soaking ourselves in His Word and in worship.
Some of us may not feel as though we’ve had a “Valley of Baca” experience, but many of us know for sure we’ve had not only one, but numerous “valley” seasons. Many of us may even feel as though we’ve gone from one valley to the next. Examples of triggers of “valley” experiences most of us get a taste of along our journey of life include (but are not limited to) such things like: unexpected loss of a loved one, tragic accidents, relational problems, marital struggles, divorce, financial hardship, illness, and on and on. In order to pass through the valley, we have to keep on walking, or we will never experience what is on the other side of our loss, hardship, trial, or sorrow. Passing through only occurs as we draw close to God, or we may literally get stuck in our valley of self pity, sorrow, and depression. Often, our natural tendency in any type of trial or loss, is to just begin to shut down altogether, to pull back from people, from God, and from life period. Or, we may attempt to escape our valley through some type of temporary relief or high, which never leads us to a place of healing or restoration. Especially in painful and difficult seasons of life, it is crucial for all of us to be in community with other believers with whom we can be honest with about our pain and struggles and who can be there with us to help us through.
Just as important as continuing to walk on or press on through our painful circumstances, we have to choose to keep praising The Lord through the valley, especially when our emotions are screaming “woe is me” the loudest. Passing from “baca” to the “pools of blessings” as described in Psalm 84, only occurs as we continue to praise the Lord and press into His presence. As Psalm 34:1 says, we should praise God continually, and especially in the valley. Praise is actually a garment we are told to put on for a spirit of heaviness (or sadness or depression) in Isaiah 61. Praising God stirs up thankfulness, reminds us to focus on God’s goodness and blessings, all He has done, is doing, and is yet to do in our lives. It’s interesting that verse 1 of Psalm 84 reminds us how lovely is God’s tabernacle or dwelling place, referring to God’s presence. Beyond being a member of a local congregation, attending church regularly, or even daily Bible reading (all of which are good), dwelling in God’s presence refers to intimate fellowship with the Lord, and is not something that occurs just in passing or casually (or through an occasional prayer or thought focused towards God and His Word). Dwelling refers to the place where someone lives. When we live our lives daily in close fellowship with the Lord, our hearts become His dwelling place. The promise in Psalm 84:4 is true that those who dwell in God’s presence will “still” be praising God, even through every valley of life. Yes, Amen.
Keep pressing on, praising, praying and focusing on the promises of God through every valley dear friend. Your Heavenly Father still desires to bless you in your final outcome, and to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Allow the Lord to take you through the “Valley of Baca” to the pools of blessings He has for you (Psalm 84:6).
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. Psalm 34:1 (NLT)
The presence of God’s Spirit consoles and comforts us. He replaces the ashes of our lives, including all the brokenness, pain, sorrow, and loss with the beauty of His love, His presence, His mercy, joy, and peace. When we express our praise to Him, heaviness, sorrow, sadness, depression, and every spirit of the enemy ceases. The “garment” of praise covers us, and our hearts and spirits are filled with the presence of God. (From Isaiah 61:1-3)