DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE
Through The Valley of Achor
Prayers for a change in direction drive us to our knees as the calendar ticks down to the unwanted day of departure. Blessings Through The Valley of Achor will remind you that heartache and cries for mercy are woven into the tapestry of all believers. Whether military or millionaire, ditch digger or diplomat, married or single—each life reaches a point where we all fall to our knees and cry out to God. Each day we will meditate on a passage to help us bloom in seasons of great transition and perceived gloom. This book is a devotional for the days that hurt and an encouragement that with God you will make it through (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
OUR STORY THROUGH THE VALLEY OF ACHOR (Hosea 2:14-16)
After six years of marriage, two precious children and a steady expectancy of the unexpected in our “soldier-diplomat” lifestyle, I had grown a bit comfortable as to what life would look like for us. I was now united to my best friend in marriage. God had worked miracles to ensure our union (read Mirrors to Windows: Change your view to see God’s true romance to see the full account unfold). Phil and I had traveled much of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe together during our first year of marriage for his profession. God had then honored our prayers for children. God even allowed my husband to be brought back from war in order to be present for our son’s birth—nearly unheard of within the military community. After the birth of our son, we were able to spend time with Phil’s parents before his mama went home to be with Jesus. We had so much to be grateful for. Although we moved every twelve to twenty-four months, I knew that Phil would always be with me to see our family through. He was a man of God and a man of sincere prayer. God had really blessed my children and me. Then, we stepped into a new terrain within our marriage and family. We experienced, more fully, what the Valley of Achor (meaning trouble) really was.
With four years in the Middle East and three years previous bouncing across the U.S. and the Arab World as a whole, our roots never sank too deep into any one place. In terms of the heart, since the age of six, my roots and strong standing were in Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. How blessed I was to have married a man, who also from a very young age, had submitted to Christ. My husband shared my same heart for global adventure and reaching those in need of the eternal security that Jesus Christ brings to the soul.
For our six years of marriage and the year prior during our courtship, Phil had always been the cool-headed one in our relationship; the logical, the planner. Well, in short, this is not the type of person he married! If there was something to fret about, more times than not, I was first in line to fill the role. If there was something to rejoice about, more times that not, I was the one waving the biggest pom-pom. And in the midst of it all, we knew that the Lord would see us through all the silliness and sorrow in between.
Although I saw military family after military family deeply challenged by the separation that comes with deployment, I was certain that the Lord would not allow me and my family to walk through the hellish experience of being a “married-single parent” as so many do while their loved one is deployed for a year or longer. When we got the news of Phil’s next U.S. Embassy assignment—coupled with the fact that we could not accompany due to safety concerns—I felt as though a horrible joke had just been played on me. In many ways, it was as though I was flashed back to the heartbreaks from my own past. As a young girl, I had always told myself that my family was safe from destruction—but had been proven wrong as divorce gripped the family of my youth. Yet, God provided in the midst of that heartache and used it for His ultimate glory.
Fast forward to the present, I was now married to the man I loved, the mama of two precious toddlers whom we loved and completely reeling all over again as I faced a new earthquake within my family. The very man God had led me to marry was now being ripped away from our children and me for an extended time due to his professional dealings with foreign governments. I silently asked the Lord in earnest, “Haven’t I gone through enough?!” [Perhaps, you too can relate to similar internal questions as the earthquakes within your own story disrupt your perceptions of security and what it means to be “safe”.] I could not bring myself to be angry with God—I just could not. I knew, even at that moment—as was true during my youth—that God is good (Nahum 1:7). So, my anger, rage and feelings of betrayal were then directed towards the very one I love most on this earth; my husband.
Ladies, allow me to assure you, the devil hates marriage. The Bible often references a marriage to most closely reflect the relationship of Jesus Christ and His body of believers, called the Church or the Bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 19:7). Thus, Christian marriages are often attacked as a way of sidelining those looked up to by singles—be they believers in Jesus Christ or not. May we pray for our marriages both while residing under the same roof as well as for periods when we are separated geographically by zip codes and even distant time zones. Take stock in this truth Ladies, the God of perfect love is bigger than our suffering and aching hearts (Romans 8:38-39)! I can testify that this has been the case for us and it now can be the case for you, too.
This study is unique in the fact that it has been written in response to the nudging the Lord has put upon my own heart—to counsel my own heart for not only the year apart from the man I love most in the world—but then the return of our family to the Middle East in response to the Lord’s leading. I would love to say that my children were spared of the stress, the chaos and the heartache that has been associated with this traumatic season of saying good-bye, hello and good-bye again to Daddy for an extended time and later friends, but that simply has not been the truth. If you too, are a parent who has felt that you have “missed the mark” to represent Jesus Christ under the current pressure you are living in, may I encourage you this very day. God is bigger than our problems, bigger than our blow-ups, and bigger than our deepest pain (2 Peter 1). Listen to me now, do not give up! You are not a quitter. You were made for so much more than this heartache and turmoil. Keep pressing into the Lord; you may not be able to see the end in sight yet, but rest assured, the best is yet to come!
Begin by confessing your shortcomings to the Lord (1 John 1:9-10) and ask for His help in walking through this Valley of Trouble with Him (Psalm 23). This will actually make you stronger and more stouthearted through the reading and meditation on the Word of God; the Holy Bible (Psalm 119:50) and daily bringing your requests and sincere heart before the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6).
The Word of God is where our hearts can be encouraged and redirected back to the Lord in times of chaos and great turmoil (Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 6:23 & 2 Peter 1:19). Hold fast to the biblical knowledge that with Jesus Christ, He will faithfully lead you out.
“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green,
To declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
Psalm 92:12-15 (NASB)
To my LORD Jesus Christ, Who has been faithful to walk my precious family through each mountaintop and valley of this great adventure. May praise and hope in Jesus Christ alone be gleaned from these pages.
Christ is the answer
Theme of Week One: God Hears Me
Week One, Day One:
“The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)
There are times in our lives when we cry out to God, with nothing left to say. Our hopes seem dashed. Our prayers appear unanswered. And, deep down, we may even fear that God simply could not fix the situation at this point anyway. On days like this, soak in the truth of God’s Word. The words of Psalm 34:18 beautifully reminds us, that not just today, but each day, the LORD is near and saves those who are crushed. What a comfort to recall that in such seasons of our lives, regardless of the duration, the LORD is near and indeed saves.
Prayer for the day:
Dear LORD, help (name)_____. You see the pain. You see the complexity of the situation. Thank you that Your Holy Bible is trustworthy and true. Please give (name)______ the assurance that this very day, You are providing comfort and presence in this incredibly difficult time. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Week One, Day Two:
“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)
Royalty dwells in palaces with elegance and lighthearted living. Yet, praise God that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, wanted to have fellowship with each of us. The Bible assures us that each life is so treasured to God that even while we were still involved in crazy living, Jesus paid our ransom (1 John 4:9). Rest in the reality today that your life is so precious to God that He stepped out of His royal living in order to revive each heart that becomes oppressed by sorrow, guilt and pain.
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, thank You for caring for each of our lives. Thank you for caring for (name) _________ life. Thank You that Your Word, the Holy Bible, assures us that we are never alone in our sorrows. It is You, the High and Exalted One who revives our hearts. Help (name) _______ to claim this truth for today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Week One, Day Three:
“The God of old is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you and commands, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27 (HCSB)
Have you ever just needed someone to back you up? When we belong to Jesus Christ, as we call upon His name, we are tapping into the eternal power of God. The same God that created the world (1 John 1:1), delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:29-31) and raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Matthew 28:5-7) is the same God you can call upon this very day. As we learn to find comfort and refuge underneath the powerful arms of Almighty God, we will see that it is God who will destroy our problems, in His perfect timing.
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, thank You for being all knowing and all powerful. Thank You for not only seeing the problems in (name) _______ life, but also destroying these problems, in Your perfect timing. Help me to claim this truth for today. You are trustworthy and Your timing is perfect. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Week One, Day Four:
“Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (HCSB)
When the diagnosis is worse than expected, call on the LORD to be your rock. When the relationship appears forever shattered, call on the LORD to be your fortress. When you no longer feel in control of your life and wonder if there is a point to continue on, call on the name of the LORD to be your rock and fortress. Regardless of our situations, no matter how deep the pain, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath today and hold fast to this prayer of Psalm 71:3. This verse is a plea for God’s help. Make it your own today—God is waiting for your permission to intervene in the story. In faith, put the name of the one in trouble on the rock of Jesus today.
***Have a picture of a rock sketch here.
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, please be the safe house of refuge for (name) ___________. Thank You that at Your word, rescue is realized within any situation. Help (name) ________ to grant You the permission to intervene into this situation today. Please be the rock for (name) ______ in a special way this day. Thank you, LORD. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Week One, Day Five:
“2Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol.” Psalm 88:2-3 (NASB)
There are seasons in life that simply leave us numb. Yet, no matter how mad we get, no matter how many nasty words we speak, the outcome does not change. When we feel overwhelmed by helplessness and inadequacy, may we cry out to the LORD in an unvarnished way. The God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, has broad shoulders. Bring your pain—the situations that have numbed your heart—to the LORD today. He is ready to rescue you in the midst of it all (1 Peter 5:7).
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, help (name) ________ with feelings of being numb and overwhelmed. Thank You, Jesus, that we can come to You with honesty and know that You care about even the smallest details of our lives. Help this truth to be made clear to (name) ______ today. In Your name I pray, amen.
Week One, Day Six:
“I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.” Psalm 17:6 (NASB)
In sports, there is a moment when only the best of the best can save the play or win the game. The psalmist is making a similar plea. He acknowledges that God is the one who has always come through for him. May we take time today to speak this truth to the Lord from our own personal stories. Not only will it bless the Lord, but it will be a sincere encouragement to our own hearts as we recall the various ways God has saved the day in the past. If you are new to the faith, know that God is ready to do the same for you that He has been in the business of doing for all of humanity since inception—saving the day—with the perfect play.
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, thank You that I can approach You with my needs. Thank You that (name)_______ can approach You with needs as well. Please minister to (name)_______ heart today. Help (name)______ to lay the heavy burdens down because You really do care for (name)________. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Week One, Day Seven:
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.” Daniel 9:18 (NASB)
This prayer in Daniel is one that echoes that all are helpless to restore what is needed—apart from the Lord’s help. With humility to God’s greatness and openly stated need, Daniel earnestly presented his requests to the Lord. In the midst of our own chaos, may we be a Christian people who are marked by this trait of running to God with both humility to God’s awesome power and acknowledgement that He indeed is more than able to come through in any situation.
Prayer for today:
Dear Lord, hope is found in You alone. Please minister to (name)_______ as the battle wages on today. Thank You that you see the destruction and will bring rescue to the situation, through Your great compassion, at Your perfect time. Help (name)_________ to cling to You in a new way today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
**Week One in review. Please write down the most meaningful verse from this past week below. As you do, please take the time to thank God for His Word. There is such a depth of strength that we are able to tap into by praying the Lord’s promises back to Him. He is faithful to sustain us in all our sorrows. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness.
** Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): This week, find someone to bless with a small assortment of flowers simply because Jesus loves them. It could be a neighbor, co-worker, friend at church, etc. In doing this, pray for this individual to feel the love of God in a new way this week.