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 . . .
A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey. The psalmist writes of pilgrimage as a journey to experience the deeper presence of God. Here’s the thing about a pilgrimage: you have to intentionally set your heart on continuing because the pilgrimage will have wonderful moments as well as dreadful moments. If, however, you persevere even when the journey feels difficult, you will be blessed with a strength that can only come from God.
“The brightness of Christ’s glorious presence shines through even the darkest hour.”
The psalmist writes about a person who has set their heart to pursue God’s presence. Their journey leads them through the Valley of Baka. Baka is a type of balsam plant that can survive in very dry conditions. The Valley of Baka refers to a deserted place or a place of intense hardship. It is a valley of weeping. Ever been there? I sure have. I remember a season in my life when I felt like all I did was cry. The journey felt so arduous and difficult. Each morning on my knees, my worship was my weeping.
The hope is that as we persist in worship, even in the valley of weeping, it ultimately becomes a place of blessing. There on your face before God, the Holy Spirit exchanges your losses for His blessings. The brightness of Christ’s glorious presence shines through even the darkest hour (Ps. 18:12). You come to the startling realization that He is enough. You are strengthened in your journey, and you emerge a more resolute and resilient pilgrim.
by Becky Harling
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