Tonight’s message continued the series ‘The Wells of Salvation’ and looked in particular at Psalm 84. This psalm reminds us that God helps us to make even the most barren of valleys a place of springs; the presence of His Spirit in us can transform the darkest, driest place into somewhere that is fertile and green. (Ps 84:5-6) So often, when we are in the desert or wilderness, we feel abandoned and forsaken by God, but living water is available even in the most arid of circumstances. The Israelites discovered this; they experienced, as we do, ‘dry patches, low spots and seeming fruitlessness’ (Nicky Gumbel), but they also found springs and wells which God provided (Num 21:16-20) and on two occasions, God was able to bring forth water from rocks (Ex 17:6, Num 20:8). We can flourish instead of fainting even when we are in dry places.
Ps 84 is a psalm of great encouragement and blessing, but the Valley of Baka is not a happy place; it’s a place of tears (the word ‘baka’ refers to a balsam tree, which seems to weep ‘tears’ of gum or sap.) Balsam trees grow well in dry situations, whereas most trees need water and nourishment to grow; this valley, then, can be said to represent those dry times in our lives when we may not feel God’s presence or blessing, but which can still turn out to be times of growth and development.
Is 41:17-20 reminds us that God can make rivers flow on barren heights and springs within the valleys. He can turn even the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs. In the desert, God can plant trees so that people may see and know, consider and understand that He has done miraculous things. God is able to provide for us even when we are in impossible situations – perhaps especially when we are in impossible situations. The result of His provision is our praise. When we flourish instead of faint, when we find a place of springs instead of a desert and therefore go from strength to strength instead of collapsing and dying, we praise God because we know that deliverance only comes from Him (see also Is 43:20-21, 2 Cor 1:8-11).
So if we are in a dry place, we can take hope in the God of living water who is able to refresh us and lead us on.