Those who have a healthy spiritual appetite will have a devotion to God, and be moving in a direction towards God. They have their hearts set on pilgrimage. They see life as a campground, not a final destination. In short, they’re just passing through! “5Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them 6Who passing through the valley of Baca.”
If you have trusted Christ as your Savior you are a pilgrim who is just passing through. This world is not your Plymouth Rock. Your home is in heaven, an eternity with the Lord! You are on a journey! Don’t encumber yourself with the non-essentials of this world, which, after all, are not created to last! The more dependent you become on things around you the more devastated you will be when they are suddenly taken away or destroyed. Avoid that devastation by maintaining a pilgrim sense of direction.
While on this pilgrimage, the psalmist referenced traveling through the “valley of Baca.” What is this valley? A valley is lowland between two mountain ranges or hills. Figuratively, valleys are referred to as discouraging places and the word “Baca” means, “weeping; sorrow.” The Psalmist is talking about “Passing through the valley of sorrow;” going through difficulties, tough times, and tribulations. Even the pilgrim, with his eyes set on Jesus and filled with an insatiable appetite for God, must travel through valleys of Baca, valleys of sorrow.
Don’t Be Discouraged by Your Difficulties
Christians (including this one) become discouraged by their difficulties far too easily, and I do not write that with a cold, uncaring heart. Job said it best (14:1): “1Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Valleys are inescapable. Do not fall victim to erroneous doctrine that says, “God only wants you ‘healthy and wealthy’.” Listen, if God’s own Son had to endure suffering to complete the will of the Father, should you expect anything different? All must travel through their valley of Baca. They are behind us and in front of us. Many times, the exit of one valley leads to the entrance of another. Your valley may be death, disease, disappointment, divorce, dismissal, or any number of things. Be encouraged from God’s Word. Don’t be discouraged by your difficulties!
How is it possible to not become discouraged by your difficulties? Here’s how, do not become distracted from your destination! The psalmist knew where he was going, and he determined where he was not staying!
Don’t set up shop or put down roots in the valley. Keep pressing ahead. Remember, you are on a pilgrimage. Your destination is a place where sin and death have been vanquished. Don’t forget, you’re just passing through. Point yourself and others toward heaven. Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Discouragement and defeat are natural byproducts of a Christian being distracted from his destination. But the Psalmist counsels us in v. 6 to dig a well rather than put down roots in the valley: “Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.”
Do you realize that Jesus was refreshed from the well that Jacob had dug hundreds of years earlier? In the moment of your discouragement and distraction, dig a well so that others, traveling down that same valley, might be refreshed! In other words, when I don’t know what to do, the best thing for me to do is to keep doing what I know to do!
- I need to keep reading my Bible.
- I need to keep getting on my knees in prayer.
- I need to keep being a positive witness for Jesus Christ. (Every believer is always a witness. The only question is whether or not it is a positive testimony.)
- I need to keep going, and being active in, my church.
- I need to keep on loving God’s people.
- I need to keep doing all the things that I know I need to do!
Do not confuse this with the classical definition of insanity which is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” That is not in any way what is being suggested here. “When passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well.”
How is your appetite? Are you devoted to God? Is your direction towards God? Finally, is your dependence on God? The only way you can dig that well in the valley of Baca is through reliance on the Lord. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.”
God’s might and power is ample and it never abates. God’s grace will always prove sufficient to preserve you. Troubles will come; temptations will come, but do not be overwhelmed by them because you are kept by the power of God through faith in His Son. “11For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
It gives me goose bumps to realize that the promise God made to Abram (“Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” Genesis 15:1) is the same promise that He makes to me! “Fear not, Travis: I am your shield and great reward!”
If that doesn’t get you hungry, what will?! “12O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
Do you trust God? Do you trust Him not only with the great decisions and big events, but with the little things as well? Do you trust Him with the things you speak to others about, and the things that you speak to no one about? Do you trust Him with your marriage, your child, your boyfriend, your career, your schooling, your business, and your life? Or do you live by the dictates of a panic-stricken world, caught in a frenzied scramble to feed its appetite with every empty thing in sight?
Sheep know the sound and are prepared to follow Him down any dusty trail. They know He will lead them to green fields and protect them from wolves.
Our Shepherd calls each of us by name. He leads us onward, not withholding any good thing from us, knowing exactly what is best for us. I am prepared to trust that kind of Shepherd. Are you? How’s your appetite?