|Weeping willow by Andre Karwath (source:commons.wikimedia.org)|
Dear Pilgrim, do you hear the sound of weeping? Do you hear the sound of wailing, of mourning, of grief?
This is the Valley of Baka (Ps 84:6), a dry valley, a valley without water, the valley of weeping. This is the place where tears flow like a river day and night, where beds are flooded with weeping and couches are drenched with tears, where streams of tears flow from eyes. This is the place where daughters are taught how to wail, where laments are taught to one another. This is the place where ashes are eaten as food and drink is mingled with tears. This is the place where sackcloth is worn and dust is sprinkled on heads. This is the house of mourning, dear Pilgrim.
Oh, Pilgrim, take courage as you pass through this valley. Be heartened, for this is not the sound of worldly sorrow that you hear, this is not the crying of self-pity that leads to death. Listen, dear Pilgrim. Can you hear this is godly sorrow?
For streams of tears are flowing from eyes because His law is not obeyed (Ps 119:136). Mourning over sin in self and mourning over sin in the land, the cry goes up to heaven that all the tears that fall be listed in His scroll and in His record (Ps 56:8). The hearts of the fathers have been turned away from their children in the land, so here in the Valley of Baka hearts are poured out on the ground in the presence of the Lord, hands are lifted to Him for the lives of their children who are fainting from hunger at every street corner, fainting from a hunger and a thirst for righteousness in the land. For truth has stumbled in the streets, and righteousness stands afar as His laws are disregarded. Is there anyone who can bring comfort? Is there anyone who can build up the wall and stand in the gap?
Oh, Pilgrim, now you are weeping too. Overcome by grief, you are weeping and weeping as you cry out “Is there no-one?”
Do not weep, dear Pilgrim! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed! The Righteous One came, full of grace and Truth, and after He shouted in victory "It is finished!" He rose again, He ascended, He has sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet. And now that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom 5:5), we overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).
For as we travel through the Valley of Baka, it becomes a place of springs. As we acknowledge the Lord, as we press on to acknowledge Him, as surely as the sun rises He will appear, He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth (Hos 6:3). In the dry and weary land that you are passing through, as you spread out your hands to Him in your thirst, He will come and He will open your eyes to see the springs of water that He has provided. Where there is no water, He will give you the faith to cry out to Him in your thirst, and He will open up for you an En Hakkore – a caller’s spring (Judges 15:18-19)! He will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched land into flowing springs (Ps 107:35). The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs (Isa 35:7).
Be ever watchful though, dear Pilgrim, as you pass the springs – for not all are His - there are some deceptive brooks (Jer 15:18). These are springs without water, without His life-giving water (2 Pe 2:17). These are springs which will fail. For not only do some forsake the spring of living water, but they dig their own broken cisterns which cannot hold water (Jer 2:13). Oh, Pilgrim, watch out for those who will lead you astray, who mouth empty, boastful words and appeal to the lustful desires of the flesh, serving up to you muddied water out of a polluted well. There is no life in them! The only cure for bad water is to take a new bowl filled with salt and throw it into the spring (2 Ki 2:19-22).
Be patient as you travel through the valley, dear Pilgrim, waiting for the autumn rains. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. (James 5:7). Be patient, dear Pilgrim, as you go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, as you sow with tears. For you will reap with songs of joy in the fullness of time, you will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with you (Ps 126:5-6)!
And you will go from strength to strength, until that glorious day when you appear before God in Zion (Ps 84:7), where He will wipe away all the tears from your face, where you will drink without cost from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:6) and where your mourning will turn to laughter (Luke 6:21). And when He comes and places a crown of beauty on your head instead of ashes (Isa 61:3) your joy will know no bounds.