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Ecclesiastes 12:1 – Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them." (NKJV)

Well, isn't that verse the truth! During the last eighteen months, I have been through a series of five medical procedures and one operation, and as I write this, I am facing some more tests and a major operation. The difficult days have surely come for me. My old age has certainly brought a number of medical challenges, and it is very difficult to have pleasure in them.

There were times when we coped well, and other times when we did not — times when the worries which faced us kept us awake at night. There were times when I pondered God's will in all this, many times when I prayed for guidance and asked that His healing touch would be upon me.

There were times when I walked in a deep valley, a physical, mental, and — dare I say it — a spiritual valley as well. Early on the morning of November 25th, my wife and I were both in tears. It was a really bad day. We were at our wits' end as to what to do, and we discussed our situation and the possible outcome of things. We prayed for spiritual guidance.

Later in the morning, I turned on the computer and saw that there was an email from our editor, Rev. Robin Ross. We had not been in touch for quite some time, and because I didn't respond, later in the day, he called us by telephone. I explained why I had not written lately. I told him about the situation that we found ourselves in and that I was at times walking in a deep spiritual valley. He referred me to a Bible passage:

1 Kings 20:27b-28 – Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside. Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, "Thus says the Lord: 'Because the Syrians have said, "The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys," therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'" (NKJV)

The story goes on to tell us that the Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the mighty Syrian army.

There were many times when I had wished and prayed that I could get out of this spiritual valley, and then, this passage told me that God is a God of the valleys, too. As we walk forward into a new year, let us keep in mind that even during times of deep despair, God is there with us, and He will comfort us and give us peace in our hearts.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You that even when we walk in deep valleys of despair, we are assured that You, Lord, are with us, and that You have everything under control. We thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.


    Amen, Joel. Prayers for you.


    Amen!
    (PA)


    Thank you for today’s devotional.
    Thanks.


    Praying for you. With God nothing is impossible. Luke 1-37


    All blessings to you and your family as you traverse these problems.


    Thank you, Joel, for this honest and thoughtful sharing of your life. I pray for peace in your valley.


    Joel, may you and your dear wife feel always the loving comfort of our Lord, especially during these challenging days.


    Thank you, Joel, aging does bring it’s valleys, may you and your wife always find the strength to enjoy the good times. Blessings.


    God be with you as you face each day,
    I will add my prayers to you and your wife.


    Thank you, this is just what I needed to hear this morning, as I also need encouragement.


    Prayers for you Joel as you go through these health issues. I enjoy your writing.
    (On)


    You have encouraged many by your writings, maybe go back and reread them.
    Saying a prayer for you.


    I very much appreciate your writing. All my best wishes for brighter days in your “valley”, and for a happy New Year.


    Thanks for sharing. God of the valley is a great reminder of the eternal presence. Prayers for strength and peace.


    We are sorry to hear about your troubles. We (my wife and I) read your devotions regularly and are uplifted by them. We pray that you may be uplifted too.


    Thank you for sharing your story with us today. We never know what others are going through. May God be with you in the new year as you go through your surgery.


    Thank you for returning to your writing which is always thoughtful and encouraging. I pray that your anxieties will be resolved in a way pleasing to you and your wife.


    Dear Joel,
    Great to hear from you again!!!!
    Happy New Year!


    Thank you for this reminder, Joel.
    Know that l will be remembering you and yours in prayer.
    Blessings.


    I am sorry you are going through this challenging time. I will pray for you and your family.
    May God Bless you with good health.


    Thank you for sharing your uplifting Devotion. It has been a year of change and aging is not easy. Your words display courage and are a lesson for us all to never forget to have faith in our Lord.


    Dear Joel. Thank you for today’s devotional. I have missed them from you and hope that you feel refreshed, inspired, and will continue to write. I wish you and your wife a blessed 2022.


    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us! Having been in the deep valley myself, I can say God got me through and He will get everyone who calls on Him through too! Blessings.


    Oh yes.
    Thank you for writing.
    Think of the martyrs…. Rom 8:28.
    It’ll be worth it all when we get to Heaven. Sing to each other? Maybe that’ll make you laugh.


    Dear Joel,
    All your PresbyCan friends will be praying for you. Your messages have been so much appreciated.


    Dear Joel:
    I always enjoy reading your inspiring messages. I am 89 years old and your message today brought me great comfort.
    Thank you and may God bless you.


    So sorry to hear about your challenges, Joel. It is true, God is always with us.
    May he fill your heart with peace and strength as you face these challenges. You and your wife are in my thoughts and prayers and may God bless you both in the year ahead!


    Praying for you and your health concerns.
    Thanks for your devotionals and the insights you provide through them.
    They have been a blessing to me.
    Blessings in 2022
    (ON)


    Dear Joel.
    May our Lord bless you with His peace that passes all understanding. May you feel His presence by your side and may you feel the Holy Spirit at your back and all around you.
    May you have a blessed and healthy new year.


    Sorry to hear that you and your wife are going through so much. I pray there will be brighter days ahead for you, yes, even in this earthly world.
    It was good to read what you wrote today. I hope you will continue to be inspired to write more.
    God’s blessings upon you and your wife for 2022.


    Thank you for your ‘story’ today … and may I encourage you to ask for prayer on our PrayerLine. I find it encouraging as well to see the number of people, whom I don’t know, praying for me on a daily basis.
    I have missed your devotions and I pray that we will see more of them as you work and pray your way through this ‘tough time in the valley’.


    Dear brother in Christ, I can feel your pain in your devotional and I also can see the Hand of God.
    Thank you for sharing with us those difficult times. Your words have inspired me, and I am sure God will use them for many who are facing hardships right now.
    May He bless you and show you His Grace in the New Year.
    (QC)


    Dear Joel Jongkind,
    May God be with you and your wife as you deal with your medical problems.
    Thank you for choosing the beautiful passage of Ecclesiastes 12:1. My father found this verse comforting and had me read it to him many times when I was able to be with him in the last few years he was struggling with Emphysema.
    God Bless and be with you.


    How good to get this! You brought my friend Robin into mind – he would be there to encourage in any situation; always backed up biblically! DD was started under his leadership and look at the circulation now!
    Glad you came out of this valley together, and with the strength of the Lord. Good pattern for 2022!
    Thank you, Joel,
    (BC)


    God bless you Joel and your wife!!
    Thank you for this insight and the encouragement it gives me and others, I am sure. Yes, I am very thankful, when I seem to be drowning, God is the life jacket that keeps me from drowning!
    May God continue to show His love and mercy and guidance in the coming months ahead.
    Blessings.


    Good afternoon, Joel.
    I have enjoyed your many devotions and have always been able to recognize your spiritual life. I have found that sometimes it is difficult to wait patiently for God to answer my prayers. Even knowing He will answer isn’t always comforting. God will answer your prayers. Keep praying and waiting for His answer. God bless you and your wife and have a happy, healthy New Year.


    Hi Joel,
    I enjoy your Devotionals; they are always inspiring. Thanks for writing them and we are Blessed to have such great writers like you . Keep up the good work.
    Keeping you in my prayers.
    Blessings to you this coming year.
    (Ont.)


    Greetings Joel,
    Many thanks for another of your very meaningful and encouraging devotionals. I’m very sorry to hear of your medical problems that you have been dealing with and more to come. I will be praying for you and know our loving Lord will have His hand upon you. We know He is ever ready to serve us and His plans and timing are always for the best results. Blessings to you and prayers for your peace and comfort in the days ahead.


    I have missed your devotions. We pray that good healthy days are ahead when spring arrives.
    Having experienced quite a few setbacks in the last 5 years, I know it can be hard.
    But so many times I have been rescued by someone, just appearing, who seemed to know I needed help. So God was keeping watch.
    A blessed and improved health in 2022.


    Hello Joel,
    Thank you for your mediation today. Clearly it comes from a challenging time of hardship for you and your wife.
    Perhaps this time has brought to mind the passages of scripture that tell us to: “Fear not”. It is often hard not to fear.
    I pray that you will continue to be blessed by the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is walking with you through this journey. May God continue to bless you in the New Year.


    Good Morning:
    I certainly hope it is a good morning for you and your wife. My prayers are with you as are many others on the Daily.
    We have all enjoyed your meditations and have been guided by them in our deepest problems and cares.
    I particularly want you to know that I am praying for you and trust the Good Lord will be with you and will guide the surgeon’s hands to help you return to good health.
    We are in a valley ourselves but I know that the Lord is looking down on our problems and helping us as I know He will you.
    God Bless you and thank you for all the “boosts” you have given me in my walk with God and the problems of life.
    God be with you and give you peace. Amen.
    Happy New Year and a better 2022 health wise.


    Hi Joel
    Thanks for today’s devotional.
    Recently my wife and I have been in a dark valley. We missed Christmas (for the second year in a row) and had a very muted anniversary. So your devotional was timely and encouraging.
    Praying that God takes you out of your dark spot.
    Blessings.


    Joel, thank you for these words of testimony and encouragement to face a new year. Actually, it is the same thinking we all need to have for each new day which can have it’s highs and lows, as we don’t know the immediate future nor the future weeks or months. But we DO know that God cares deeply for us, and He never stops working, even when we can not see it or feel it.
    May the peace of God be yours and mine as we trust in Him with all our hearts.
    Blessings,
    (Oregon, USA)


    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for your message today I have missed your messages and wondered why. I am sorry to hear you have medical problems, I will keep you in my prayers that with your surgery you will be well again and enjoy life with your wife.
    Blessings.


    And I pray for you Joel….and empathize. As one of my dear older friends (now deceased) used to say, “Growing old is not for sissies” and I too am finding out how right she was!
    I pray that you will continue to find a way to write your devotionals which are always inspiring and that your health issues will be resolved in a way that will allow you to enjoy life again.
    May God Bless you and keep you strong.


    Good Morning:
    Just read today’s devotional and sorry to hear you are having a rough time. Have always enjoyed your devotionals. Will pray that you will know God’s presence when you feel you are in a dark valley and also that this next time of tests and surgery will go well.
    May God bless you for all the devotionals that have encouraged others.


    Thank you for your insights, and it made me think of how we need the warnings and the promises. Ephesians 6 has inspired me to think about putting on the whole armor every day!! Yes, He helps us in our valleys, and gives us His grace sufficient!!


    Dear Joel:
    Thanks for sharing. May God keep you safe and give you his peace as you deal with these medical issues.
    Remember: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me (Ps 23:4)
    Blessings and prayers.


    Dear Joel Jongkind,
    I have been missing your Devotionals and now I understand why. I am praying for you and your wife. May our Lord grant you strength.
    Isaiah 41:10 ESV
    Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
    (Ontario)


    Thank you for sharing with us your deep valley experiences and for reminding us that our dear Lord is in control and is with us always, making us conquerors through His great love.
    Going through some valleys in my journey of ageing, your message was what I needed! PTL!
    It will be a privilege to keep you and your wife in my prayers.
    May God continue to bless you. May His face shine upon you and give you peace that passes all understanding.


    Dear Joel, over the years, I enjoyed and been encouraged by your wisdom and stories and reflections on all kinds of circumstances. I have missed those of late and was happy to see your name as the author of today’s devotional. Once reading, I am very sorry that you have some major health challenges. I pray for wisdom, skill, and caring for each one of the health professionals as they touch and interact with you and your family.
    And I pray for patience, as you go through each step that I pray will be full recovery. In appreciation of your honesty and wisdom and encouragement to us.


    Hello Joel,
    I’m sorry to hear about the trials you have been experiencing and just want to encourage you with these words of Scripture which I have found to be a real comfort in life’s times of struggle – Ps. 27: 1 and 14 (NIV) and Zeph. 3:17 (NIV).
    Since the death of my beloved husband in 2019 and then the onset of COVID 19, I have had dark moments in the valley and yet have also found that it is at these times when we cry to the Lord and commit all to Him that we can experience the light of His great love and that peace that surpasses all understanding. May this be so for you and your wife in the days ahead.
    May the Lord surround you with His love, peace, and comfort.
    Blessings and thanks for all the devotionals you share with us.


    Good evening, Joel.
    I am so sorry about what and Your Precious wife have had and continue to go through. What would we do without our Faith in our Saviour, and our praying family and friends who carry on where we can’t. I wonder why the Lord let me get to 97, but I know He has plans for my life which means there yet is something for me to do. So know that my prayers are with you for His will to be done.
    God bless you in many special and surprising ways.
    (Ca.)


    May God realize your anguish and bring you solace. I have always enjoyed your devotionals and marvelled about your professional job and where you have lived. You have also not been idle in your retirement, leading others in faith. Dealing with health problems, especially in these restrictive times, is complicated and stressful. How wonderful it is that God nudged Robin to get in touch with you. Many prayers will now be sent your way.
    May God bless you both.


    Dear Joel Jongkind
    I was wondering why we had not heard from you for so long and now I know. I am sorry that you have had such a difficult time and that you have found yourself in so many valleys. I pray that God will continue to use you for His purposes in spite of the challenges that you face. I pray for deep healing peace for you and for all who love you. I pray that He will light your journey so that you can see your way out of any darkness that you may encounter. As we marvel at the beauty of tiny wildflowers in the spring, so let us cling to the little moments of great beauty that we might find as we walk such difficult trails. God is with you even when it seems as if your world is falling apart.
    Thank you for the wisdom in the devotionals that you have written. I have ALWAYS enjoyed reading them.


    Hi Joel, Yes, the days are not what they once were, I am nearing 79 and know at least some of which you speak.
    Thank you again for your sharing devotional published today. Sometimes it seems we are left with only knowing that it is up to us to trust. Thank you for expressing what you did, and I will be praying for you in your “medical adventures”. Like us, I am sure you are glad that same are free in Canada. I hope and trust that you are getting the treatment you require in a prompt and expert fashion.
    God’s blessing on you and your wife.


    Good Morning, Joel.
    So many times I have enjoyed reading your devotionals, and so many times I have been able to use a nugget of wisdom from your writings. Thank you!
    Today’s devotional brought to mind one of my favourite songs which I often used as a choral anthem with church choirs. It is entitled “God on the Mountain” by Tracy G. Dartt and arranged by Michael E. Parks. It is a peppy, upbeat piece of music which never failed to leave me feeling better. As the chorus says, “For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley; when things go wrong, He’ll make them right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times; the God of the day is still God in the night.”
    May these words help you through your ‘valley days/nights’ and know that you have readers who are thinking of you in prayer.
    (ON)


    Good morning, Joel,
    Just a quick note to say I greatly appreciated your message this morning. I am one of the ministers at my church and so many of our seniors (I am 83) are experiencing ‘deep valleys’ due to this pandemic and the isolation many are feeling, especially if they live alone or are in a residence or care situation that does not allow visitors. Your message is one I shall share. By the time I am reading this you probably have already had your surgery if so, I pray that it went well and you are recovering and feeling much better.
    God bless you and your wife as you journey through the days ahead.
    Blessings and prayers,


    Joel, it was good to see your devotional this morning. Thank you for reminding us that even in deep valleys we are never alone.
    Having just returned to Nova Scotia Christmas Eve from visiting my 90-year-old Mom in Ontario I see how getting older is not for the faint of heart.
    It is a long, lonely, painful experience for so many and I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for those without faith.
    I pray that the spiritual guidance, prayers, strength and support you have shared over your lifetime is returned and felt by you and your wife especially during these times.


    Dear Joel,
    God works in mysterious ways. As I was waking up this morning, I thought that Joel has not written a devotional for awhile. I hoped all is okay and I prayed for you. Then I open my computer and there you are. I now understand why we have not heard from you. It is so true no matter how faithful we have been and how many people we have encouraged on their faith journey, that we too fall into that spiritual valley and need encouragement to hold strong.
    I had to learn than when I didn’t think God answered my prayers that the answer could be no, and that God knows best. I struggled with this and finally grasped it but sometimes it still slips away, and I have to work through it again.
    It is difficult to share our struggles and I am sure it is comforting to have your wife to share this part of your journey with. May you remember how many of us have benefited from your devotionals over the many years and may it offer you some comfort and love. May you remember all the times God has been there for you in the past as you continue on His plan for you knowing that He wants only the best for you.
    Thank you for sharing as we all remember that God is the God of valleys also. Best wishes for 2022.


    Joel……you have been missed. I am sorry to hear that health issues have been a cause for your absence. Age is certainly not kind in numerous ways, but age is a privilege that many poor souls are denied.
    I will be praying for you and your health, and your family.
    I pray that God will bless you and sustain you no matter what comes your way.
    Psalm 23 always lifts my spirit when it is weak. When my youngest son died unexpectedly in recent years, I was angry and in disbelief, so much so that I threw my Bible aside and gave up praying but time passed, and I needed the emotional support that only God can give.
    My hope is that whatever comes next for you, you will hold on to the strength that can be found in God’s word.
    Stay strong and I pray that all will be resolved for you.
    Be blessed,
    (ON)


    Joel,
    When we reach a certain age, we should not be surprised by health issues, should we? But alas, we are. My husband was 85 when he spent three weeks in the hospital two years ago. Where he was treated is not exactly a mecca for medical research, etc., but the doctors diagnosed the condition. At any rate during the whole time he was in the hospital, I was relatively calm, and I attribute that to the fact that every day I told myself, “God is in control.” That did not mean I would like the outcome necessarily, but I did have the confidence that God would always be in control.
    I tell myself that same thing daily considering the challenges of living in this world.
    Thank you for writing. Your devotionals are always relevant and meaningful.


    Thank you for sharing your difficult “valley” experience.
    I thought of Psalm 23 as I was contemplating what you wrote. I reread it in The Message and this part lit up for me: “Your beauty and love chase after me very day of my life”.
    In your ongoing valley experience may God’s “beauty and love chasing after you” peak through the dreary clouds for you and your wife.
    When I was waiting for open heart surgery, and well aware of the risks, the “light through the clouds” came when listening to a John Rutter lead choir sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” and “You Are Mine” sung by David Haas. I listened to these before trying to go to sleep the night before surgery. To my surprise, I feel asleep immediately and slept well.
    Blessings to you both.


    Hello dear friend of Christ:
    I pray that you have received many words of encouragement and heartfelt understanding this day in the midst of your plight. We are the BODY of Christ, so we all hurt with you and for you and your wife. Take heart, we surround you as believers in the person and Kingship of Jesus Christ.
    I have a friend whose life was recently torn apart. Their pain, like yours, was evident in their words, and in the unspoken words of their heart. I had absolutely no words to offer them that I didn’t feel would sound hollow, and empty of support, so I asked the Holy Spirit to give me His words of comfort.
    I offer them here for you, and pray that the resurrection power of God Almighty, His Holy Spirit, would come upon your body now and restore to you perfect health in body, mind, and emotions, in Jesus Name. That the healing Jesus paid for by His stripes would manifest hourly, daily, and weekly, to your full and complete healing. In Jesus name.
    In the darkness, Jesus is the Light by which we make our way. I hope these words bring some comfort to you and if not, forgive me for not hearing from the Spirit correctly.
    I shall add you both to my prayers.
    May God send you His Holy presence into your home.
    God bless.


    Dear Joel
    Glad to hear from you again. I’ve enjoyed your messages for quite some time and your email has helped me focus on God’s word.
    When you were in the valley and not writing I sensed something was wrong, so I’m glad Robin reached out to you and you felt that community. Peace to you and your family.


    Know that you are not alone in your “valleys and peaks”. You are blessed with a wife who supports your decisions and many friends who will be praying for peace and healing. Your messages touch all who share these devotions, and we appreciate you great discipleship. Grace and Peace to you and your family. Looking forward to you next message.
    (Texas)


    O Joel! How your writing has blessed and helped me over the past years since I have been involved with PresbyCan! I always brighten up when I see your name appended to the Daily Devotional. You may be assured of my prayers. I am 80 with all that goes with it. I get the physical stuff and I ask our Loving Heavenly Father for peace and acceptance for you as you undergo the tests and surgeries involved in fixing the body. to guide all outcomes and to continually give you a sense of his presence in all that occurs.


    Greetings in Christ, Joel.
    I read the devotional every day and have always enjoyed your devotions.
    These verses are also a comfort to me.
    I too am aging and my health does not allow for some of the things l used to do in life.
    This past year l took an online course about suffering and one take away that l find helpful is when you ask yourself “why me?” – replace that question with “what now?” because God is in all the details of the Christian journey and therefore will always provide the answer to the second question and the strength to bear through it.
    Will keep you uplifted in prayer, “neighbour.”


    To Joel and your wife,
    I feel your pain and your despair and your panic AND so does Our Lord Jesus.
    I think you need to ask the Lord for a tune up of your faith which will be undertaken by His Holy Spirit.
    KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS.
    The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace “


    Dear Mr. Jongkind,
    It was nice to read your Devotional. I had been wondering what had happened to you as well, since we hadn’t read anything from you for a while.
    I am sorry to read that you are having such a struggle with your health lately though. May God give you strength and patience in these trying times. God’s will be done…, we just don’t always know what that might be.
    I would like to encourage you to look for His guidance and strengths.
    With kind greetings from
    (BC)


    We have been in the COVID valley for almost two years, praying for God to guide us when we hear science say “I don’t know”.

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