How Can You Survive in the Never-ending Valley?

We all encounter valley experiences—those times when life is dark and really hard to navigate. Usually we just grit our teeth and hang on hoping we’ll soon come out the other side. But, how can we continue to survive when that valley seems to stretch out as far as the eye can see? How do we keep slogging forward when we’re already well beyond tired and discouraged?

There have been many times that the storms of my life have been unrelenting. I would fight so hard to get back on my feet only to have another gust knock me down again. Illness, money problems, relationship issues—they just kept coming—the next one right on the tail of the last. It was so frustrating and so very, very exhausting. I felt like giving up, but I couldn’t even figure out what that would look like. So I kept plodding along, probably looking more like a zombie than an overcoming Child of God.

I’m not naive enough to think I’ve learned all I need to about such times, but I want to share three tactics that have helped me survive. Maybe they’ll  help you, too, the next time you find yourself in “one of those times.”


Humans are great at setting themselves up to be disappointed. I have been very skilled at this, myself. I’ve tried to build hope by telling myself that once I get through the current struggle everything will be great again.
It’s way too easy to talk ourselves into the idea that “once school is out,” “once this is paid off” or “as soon as this situation gets settled,” things will return to smooth sailing. THEN our life will finally be easy! It’s as if we set a countdown timer in our brain and hunker down to wait for “happy ever after” to begin. We can almost see the goal line. In our mind it is getting closer with each passing day. Maybe we CAN survive this!
But the completion of whatever we named rarely does the trick. Instead, it brings us to a whole new level of  devastation! We had ourselves paced for the soon-to-come end of our struggles, and it didn’t happen. Our hope deflates like a holey balloon. We’re left feeling even more discouraged than before. Sometimes our faith even waivers and anger settles in.
John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Troubles are going to be a part of our life —our whole life long. We can’t will them away, but we can have peace in the midst of them. God says!


You’ve undoubtedly heard this one many times. It’s a simple concept that is challenging to put into play.
The truth is, especially in those extra rough times, the big picture is too overwhelming. The “what if’s” alone are enough to bring you down. Once again, our thinking is at the center of our struggle.
We absolutely cannot foretell the future or change the past. Ruminating about the possibilities of what might happen only steals our joy and makes the current situation even more daunting. Berating ourselves for our mistakes, or feeling victimized by the things that have happened to us, also serve no useful purpose.
The best way to survive is to adopt the “one day at a time” mantra of AA and other recovery groups. It actually aligns with Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It can be a challenge to take our mind captive in this way, but as we get better at it, we will find a freedom we have never known.
I’m reminded of a passage written by Robert Louis Stevenson that promotes this:
Anyone can carry his burdens, however hard, until nightfall . . anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day . . . anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, til the sun goes down . . . And this is all that life really means.
JUST TODAY. That’s all we need to be concerned about.


Have you ever woken up in the morning dreading the day before you? I have to admit that I have. There was too much to do. The tasks were too big. Maybe they weren’t things I wanted to do, but they needed to be done. I was out of time.
Sometimes even one day feels like too much to handle or survive.
Those are the days that the old joke “How do you eat an elephant?” comes into play. Who in their right mind even WANTS to eat an elephant? But, if you must . . . the answer is, of course, “one bite at a time.”
It’s easy to get so bogged down with the massiveness of the task before us, that we become overwhelmed and paralyzed. The most important thing to do when we’re in that state is to concentrate on the very first step we need to take to get started.


“Even though Sunday night was usually my night off from my building maintenance job, I had to go to work that week because some big wig was coming up from Portland. My supervisor told me that I needed to strip and wax the whole variety end of the store. It was a huge section of floor and I was upset and angry.
I knew I couldn’t get it done in one night. I started looking at how much I had to do and it felt hopeless. But after I got going, I concentrated on one aisle at a time. I just kept going and going and by 5:30 the next morning I had only one little section left to go.
I looked back at how far I had come and I felt the Lord tell me, “See, I will give you just enough strength for one aisle at a time. Stop looking at the whole store or the “mountain of your problem.” I instantly realized that that was exactly what I had been doing. I had allowed myself to become totally overwhelmed by the enormity of my issues, when I really needed to be focusing on taking just one small step at a time”.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask God to help you see one “aisle” at a time. Let Him show you that singular next step that he wants you to focus on at this moment.
Narrowing our focus helps us survive. If we’re not trying to look at the whole valley, it won’t seem so overwhelming.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him —Psalm 37:23
TODAY’S CHAT: Which of these three tactics do you think would be most helpful for you to adopt when life seems too hard?

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