Friday, June 21, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Blessed

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, 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.” –Psalm 84:4-7 (NIV)

Have you ever been in a spiritual valley—that place where God seems far away and the mountaintop experience is almost forgotten? I’m pretty sure the answer is “Yes!” In fact, I should probably ask how many valleys you’ve traveled through in your Christian walk, rather than “if.” Valleys are part of our journey as Christ-followers. 

My husband and I have been through more than a few valleys in our lifetime. They usually involved finances, careers, and big moves, but we’ve also grieved loved ones and wept for lost dreams.

More than any other verses in the Bible, the beauty of Psalm 84 brings me comfort. I can still hear the pastor at one of our first churches bellowing from the pulpit, “Blessed men go through the valley.” The key word there is through. A valley comes to an end, and that’s encouraging. But the other key word is blessed.

What does that word really mean? As Christians, we use that word al lot, usually in the context of something good, or an experience—the birth of a child, healing from an illness, even a bargain on a car or new pair of shoes. Those are nice things to have for sure, but the word “blessed” encompasses much more.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the Greek word makarios. The word “makarios” means to be happy or blissful, but it implies much more than an emotion or a reaction. Blessed is a state of being that’s complete unto itself. It’s not dependent on circumstances, good health, possessions, or anything. It’s a deep contentment that stays with us regardless of our circumstances.

Cancer is a valley. But blessed men and women go through it. We don’t stop being blessed when life gets hard, or even when we lose it and cry and grieve.

Regardless of what is happening externally, we can be at peace internally. Is that easy? No! I’m quite sure many a blessed man and woman has cried their eyes in a hospital room, over a job loss, or at a funeral. I know I have. But as a blessed people, we also have the deepest kind of peace—the knowledge that the Lord is with us in the valley.

This wonderful Psalm talks about making the valley “a place of springs.” Springs refresh us. They provide living water. It’s God’s presence in our lives that enables us to get through tough times. In no way is blessedness dependent on us! It’s a gift from God, and for that I am grateful—both for the valleys and the springs.

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.

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