Favour in the Valley of Weeping: Bringing blessing out of suffering

Jo Acharya | April 2, 2024

A dry rocky valley in Israel with a few green trees
En Gedi, Israel. Image by Jo Acharya
A dry rocky valley in Israel with a few green trees
En Gedi, Israel. Image by Jo Acharya

The inspiration for the name of this website comes from Psalm 84. It’s a song about longing to worship God in his Temple, with a middle section picturing God’s people on their journey to Jerusalem.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7, NIV

‘Baka’ is a word with a double meaning. It’s the Hebrew word for ‘weeping’, and is also used to describe a kind of tree that ‘weeps’ resin from its branches. These verses can be seen as a physical journey of pilgrimage, passing through a valley named for its trees, or a symbol of our lifelong journey of faith, passing through times of sorrow and pain.

What’s always struck me in this passage is that in verse 6 it’s those who pass through the valley who make it a place of springs. Their very presence in that place makes it more welcoming and easier to live in. The autumn rains in the next line make me think of God’s part in this transformation, showering his people with nourishment while they are in this difficult place. The valley is softened and brightened; it’s no longer a dry, desolate place, but a fertile, life-giving one.

Bringers of Blessing

The story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis gives us another insight into how this works.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered…
From the time [Potiphar] put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph.
Genesis 39:2-4, NIV

Joseph had been sold as a slave and taken far from his home. Yet because God was with him, the household of his new master was blessed. Later, when he was falsely accused and thrown in prison, once again his closeness to God became a blessing to those he was with.

We are not immune from hard things because we trust God. Difficulties, grief and suffering will come to us all. If you’re struggling to trust God with an unknown future right now, check out my 2-part series on God and uncertainty.

Christians go through the same difficulties and heartaches as everyone else. The difference is that we know God is with us. Just as God blessed Joseph in his difficult places, and even blessed those around Joseph because of his faithfulness, so he does the same for us in our own lives.

That challenging work environment? Your presence there can bring blessing.

That painful relationship? Your faithfulness there can bring blessing.

That desolate valley? Your experience there can soften and brighten it for others.

How? Because God works in us and through us in every situation we encounter. It’s not a performance. There’s no pressure here to be perfect, no demand on us to hide our pain or pretend everything is okay. There’s simply this promise that he is with us, that he won’t leave or forsake us, and that out of our ashes he will bring beauty (Isaiah 61:3). We are his children and we are bringers of blessing.

Our honest wrestling, our questions and doubts, our fight to keep trusting our Father in the midst of darkness – these all shape us, grow us and strengthen us. And God works with us to help and bless those who come after us, just as we are blessed and helped by those who went before us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV

Our experiences in the valley of weeping give us hard-won empathy and wisdom; springs of hope for other pilgrims on the journey.

If you found this article helpful, you might enjoy my book ‘Refresh’. It’s a beautiful devotional journal exploring God’s plan for living well in every area of life, including times of suffering. The 52 short reflections are filled with Biblical wisdom and gentle encouragement for the everyday. Get a signed copy in our store, or pick it up on Amazon (affiliate link).

Posted in

Join our email list for updates and free gifts

* indicates required

By pressing the button you consent to receive emails from Valley of Springs. See our Data Protection and Privacy Policy for more details.

A man sits outside reading Jo Acharya's book 'Refresh: a wellness devotional for the whole Christian life'

Faith in Everyday Life: Why I wrote a Christian wellness journal

Read Now >>>

A painting of Job lying face down in lament while another man sits over him with arms raised in judgment, condeming Job's relationship with God

Job’s Relationship with God: Finding truth in lament

Read Now >>>

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *