In 1 Kings chapter 20, the Syrians pursue war with the nation of Israel, but the first battle belonged to Israel. Ben-Hadad, the King of Syria comments in verse 23 that Israel won because “their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us.” The King of Syria goes on to say that his army should attack Israel on plain ground, and surely, they will have the advantage since Israel’s gods are gods of the hills—or so they thought. Not too long afterward, a man of God approached Ahab, the King of Israel and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Long story short, Israel defeated the Syrian in both the hills and the valleys. The Lord is the God of the hills and the valleys.
I was with my father-in-law a few days ago, and I had my mom on video camera through messenger. He was speaking to her and encouraging her through her difficult times. He said something that struck me about mountains and valleys. He told my mom the benefit of being on top of a mountain is that we can see far into the distance, but the downside is that hardly anything grows because it is too cold in high altitudes. In the valleys, we cannot see very far ahead, but there is potential for things to grow. He told her to “hang on to the Lord because He guides His sheep through valleys.” I believe we all face our battles on hills or in valleys, and our character is revealed during difficulties. I have had my share of battles throughout my lifetime, and 2017 added on to them. Still, I have seen victories on both sides, and there are victories that have yet to be seen.
An opportunity sprung up last year in April for me to share at my high school alma mater, North Dallas High School. Speaking at my high school was a milestone, as it was something I had always dreamed of. I desire to use my life to impact others and give a word in due season. This is an event I see as a hill. The following September, my wife approached me and asked me how I would like to quit my job, go to Mexico for an extended time, and find a new job in my desired field when I returned from Mexico. I looked at her perplexed because that is not something my wife would say. I already had planned to visit my parents in Juarez Thanksgiving week, but my wife gave me the opportunity to spend more time with them than a week. My plan was to arrive November 15 (on my mom’s birthday), fly to Dallas on December 14 to spend time with my sister Alma and brother Isaac, and then fly back home to Atlanta on the 18th.
All was going according to plan until I received a call the morning of December 2nd informing me that my sister Alma was in a terrible car accident. I could not believe it. I still can’t believe it. (I will elaborate more in my next blog about these events.) Besides being left in America as young teenagers without parents, struggling, house hoping, and wondering where our next meal would arrive, this has been one of the lowest valleys my family has ever been through. Alma was in ICU at Parkland Hospital for two weeks, and I was the one who had to make decisions for her life. I have never been placed in such a position, and it was not easy. What do you do when you see your little sister intubated, helpless, and you don’t know if she will remember you after she wakes up—if she wakes up. Being away from my wife for a longer period of time than expected also burdened me. Knowing that she wanted me home, I still couldn’t leave my sister in her condition. The only thing I knew to do was send specific prayer requests to prayer warriors. Prayer was the main key to overcoming obstacles, yet there are victories that are yet to be seen. Thankfully, Alma is at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, and her discharge date is January 31th. She will then go to a transitional home where she will receive further therapy. I know what I experienced on my side of this battle, and it’s still not over. I can only imagine what Alma has dealt with and is currently experiencing, as well as my mom, dad, Nena (older sister), Luis and Isaac. We are currently walking through this valley, but we are doing what my father-in-law told my mom, “hang on to the Lord because He guides His sheep through valleys.” The Lord is the God of the hills and the valleys.
New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lord the Shepherd of His People
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord