The tell (city mound) at Samaria

God of Hills and Valleys

The tell (city mound) at SamariaHave you ever noticed that some things are easier to trust God with than others? It’s natural that we each have our own strong and weak points in our faith. What is a point of natural trust for some people is a point of natural doubt for others. As an example, some people more naturally trust God with their relationships than with their finances. Others are the exact opposite.

There is a story from the Old Testament that came to mind with considerable force the other day as I was praying to God about a matter of particular concern to me. In 1 Kings 20 the story is told of the attack by the king of Aram on the northern kingdom of Israel. They were roundly defeated by Israel, who fought with the help of God.

But the king of Aram would not give up, and his advisors assured him that the only reason Israel had been successful was because Israel’s God was a “god of the mountains,” where the battle had taken place. They encouraged him to build an army like the one he had lost, and told him that he would surely have victory if he fought in the valleys next time.

A God of the plains versus God of the hills? That just sounds silly to us today. We know that God is God everywhere. We affirm His omnipresence as part of the basic understanding of God we have as Christians. The surprising thing is, our attitudes often have more in common with that of the Arameans than with that of the Israelites, due to the strange splits we can have between strong faith in one aspect of our lives and the timidity and doubts we have in other aspects.

It’s difficult to trust God with some things even though we may easily trust Him with others. Sometimes we have clearly seen God’s work in one particular area of our lives but not in other areas; we have ample evidence to believe that God loves us and forgives us, but not that he will provide food for us. Or perhaps the reverse is true; we have seen countless times how God has provided physical bread for us to eat, but we have never truly felt like God has forgiven us.

My own personal strong point has been in trusting God’s intellectual provision – I know that he will give me the right thoughts to think and words to say when I need them. I don’t do as well on the areas of finances and relationships. I have a long and distinguished record of solid trust in God for my ideas and the ways in which I can apply those ideas for his kingdom. I have just as long and distinguished record of failures when it comes to relationships – or at least starting them. The internal tension that comes from the lopsidedness of my faith is hard to deal with sometimes. How can the same God who cares for my mind so much care for my heart so little?

Maybe you know what I’m talking about, or maybe you have the opposite problem. The issue still remains; when we have faith in God for only one area of our lives we are effectively saying that God is only a God of the hills and not a God of the valleys as well. We are just as foolish in our understanding of God as the Arameans were almost 2900 years ago. Let’s work to bring our faith in God into all aspects of our lives.

Would you like to know how things turned out between the Israelites and the Arameans? God heard the arrogant words of the Arameans, and vowed to give the Israelites victory over the Arameans. The Israelites trusted in the same God regardless of their location, and went out and fought once more. They didn’t just beat the Arameans this time, they annihilated them, despite the fact that the Israelites were outnumbered probably 10-to-1. God didn’t like being limited to just the hills. As Lord of all creation, God demanded recognition in both the hills and the valleys.

 

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