Recently the valley looks like this: my 12 year old daughter’s hair is falling out. It started two weeks ago and hasn’t let up yet. She now wears a hat to school and received a diagnosis of alopecia areata from a dermatologist. Basically, her immune system is attacking her hair.
It’s not the end of the world. It’s hair. Hopefully… it will grow back. However, for a middle school girl – right now – it’s traumatic. She’s scared, worried, and insecure. She’s facing questions and teasing from peers who don’t understand. As a momma – I feel sad and sometimes angry that she must walk this difficult path.
Yet in the midst of this valley, God chooses to shower His blessings. We are not yet on the other side of the battle, but we are at the base of the mountain beginning the climb already seeing God at work. A college student I’ve never met before visited our church last week. She reached out to share her journey with alopecia as a teen as God’s greatest blessing in her life to encourage my daughter. We’ll hopefully be getting together with her soon. Friends drop by with hats, a new outfit for my daughter, and prayers. The texts, facebook messages, and hugs are Jesus with skin on to me.
These people are blessings in the valley for me and my daughter as we see God work through His body – the church. The greatest blessing though is Jesus Himself. My daughter said in the car on the way home from the dermatologist’s office, “Mom, I think Jesus wants to use this in my life to bring me closer to Him.” Through tears I told her how her hair loss was also bringing her and I deeper in relationship. This is something I’ve longed for as she and her identical twin are growing into young women.
After dropping her back off at school, I put away my phone and got on my face and poured out my thoughts and feelings to my Savior. Questions like: Will it all fall out? Will it all grow back? Will it happen again? I cried out to the One I know will always listen with compassion. When my emotions were spent and my heart was still, I got up on the couch and opened His Word to my daily reading. I started in John 14:1. It was like a direct answer to all my supplication.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”
However, it was in the Old Testament where I related to the Valley of Blessing. King Jehoshaphat faced an army he couldn’t defeat. He was outnumbered. When he first learned of the attack coming his way, 2 Chronicles 20:3 says, “Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance.”
I could relate to his fear and pleading with God for the battle facing my daughter for confidence and security as she constantly found large clumps of hair on her pillow in the morning and on her shoulders throughout the day.
Next, Jehoshaphat prayed and rehearsed God’s attributes and past victories. He said things like:
“O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!” (vs. 6) He goes on to talk about how God befriended Abraham and helped Solomon build the temple. He went back generations remembering God’s goodness in troubled times.
I don’t have to go back that far to remember God saving the life of my daughter’s identical twin. When she was five she went into septic shock and had a serious blood clot. God took care of our family through it all. I can think of many other situations where God has provided for financial needs, healed relational strife, and come close during difficult times. As I read this chapter, God reminded me that He can be trusted.
Jehoshaphat also admitted his inability to fix his circumstances. “O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” (vs. 12)
I know very little about alopecia, but I know enough to know that I am powerless to “fix it” for my daughter. The mighty army attacking her is her own immune system. I read a little online and will follow the counsel of my doctors, but I’m not going into “I can figure this out” mode. I’ve been there and done that with my children’s asthma and allergies and finally am at rest. They have it. Nothing will change it unless God chooses to intervene. We will manage the symptoms, accept it, and pray that God will teach us and heal us through it.
While I know He can and often does heal and will continue to ask Him in faith to do that – I will accept that His will is better than mine. I will not overfocus on what I think He should do in our situation – I will keep seeking and listening to know what He wants to do in our lives in the process. Daily I want to pray Jehoshaphat’s prayer, “We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” Help in sorting through the medical information. Help in knowing how to encourage my daughter. Help in getting to the day when she is fully restored – maybe in six months… maybe longer… His will. Then my faith grows stronger as I see what God called Jehoshaphat to do in the meantime. He said,
“Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (15)
“But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” (17)
“Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” (20)
“The people then responded by singing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever! At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.” (21-22)
I could hear God’s gentle voice calling me to trust Him. He will fight this battle for us. I can go ahead and thank Him now for His faithful love that will never end. It endures forever. He wants me to believe Him even when I can’t see and feel Him. He doesn’t want me to wallow and give into the fears that creep at the edges of my mind. Though this is a daily battle to keep believing, I know our destination. Verse 26 says, “On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.”
Our blessings will come in the valley. They already have begun and I’m on the lookout for more. I’m not sure what your valley looks like today. I pray you’ll find some blessings even in the deep places. One day we will celebrate the ultimate victory on the mountaintop, but until then – I’m grateful for valley blessings like deeper faith and special closeness with my sweet daughter.