I admit it.
In the past five months, it takes nothing, absolutely nothing – a friend’s encouragement, a child’s anguish, a mother’s love, a parent’s pain, a note of blessing, a stinging criticism, a tender embrace, a friend’s sudden passing, a discerning prayer, and loss, so much loss, loss, loss – to bring me to tears.
My heart is ravaged by grief and loss.
And yet, in my pain flows the tender, knowing, strengthening words of my God – just when I need them:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
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.
New International Version, Psalm 84:5-7
I am in the Valley of Baca.
Not physically, of course.
But, I am a like the pilgrims of the ages who passed through the cheerless Valley of Baca. Known as the “Valley of Weeping,” the Valley of Baca was the final stage of the pilgrimage from North Palestine to Jerusalem. These sojourning souls sought the peace, harmony, and rest of the promised land.
The Hebrew transliterated word, baca means to weep. The narrow, desolate valley was both a physical and symbolic representation of each pilgrim’s journey through life’s misery, grief, and loss this side of heaven to eventually reach Zion.
Picture it: Brackish water trickled and oozed from the rocks. Walking through, trudging through, crying through, and even fighting through the sandy, pebble-strewn, low terrain of Baca, the pilgrims grimaced and groaned.
And yet, this valley was not their stopping point. Tears watered the pathways and guided the sojourners forward.
The pilgrims moved through their hardships with resolute hope. Stepping from the strength they garnered from each sorrow or struggle to the strength they harnessed from each failure or loss they eventually emerged from the despairing, weeping space.
The trust they held in their God had led them through the valley of sorrow and loss to a resurrected life that could have come no other way.
We want that though, don’t we?
Another path beyond the agony.
Another option besides the discomfort.
Another choice before the misery.
Another way, any other way, but this…..
And yet, the path through the Valley of Baca was the empowering, soul-strengthening experience that each sojourner needed to embrace the wondrous life ahead in Jesus.
Yes, the tears were needed to water the way.
How are you doing?
Have you experienced loss upon loss upon loss in recent months or years and the tears just flow, like me?
Let the tears come.
And as they do, know that you and I are pilgrims of this world journeying to another – to the promised place beyond the sadness, the loss, and the struggle. We’re on our way to eternity where no tears fall.
There’s just love.
There’s just joy.
There’s just peace.
There’s just contentment.
There’s just worship and praise.
There’s just life – resurrected life.
And that’s what this is all about really.
Not this sadness.
Not this worry.
Not this anxiety.
Not this struggle.
We are moving forward – and yes, the tears are watering our way.
We are going to be okay.
How do I know that?
Because we are growing stronger and more resilient as we go from strength to strength with the love and care of our Lord Jesus.
It’s okay to cry.
Our tears guide us closer to Jesus.
Our tears water the way.