“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of streams…” (Psalm 84:5-6, NIV).
What a beautiful picture of finding our strength in God!
Psalm 84 describes the Israelites in a time of separation from the house of God, perhaps during captivity or exile. The Psalmist has known the nearness of God in the past, but now only longs for the sweetness of God’s presence once again. The Valley of Baca is unknown, but the word baca means “weeping” or “balsam trees,” which could be found in very dry regions and valleys. So they are in a dry valley, longing for God’s presence in their lives again.
Have you ever felt that life has just dried up? You used to feel God’s presence and enjoy worship, but now worship seems like a distant event of the past. Maybe a time of sickness, sin, fear, or loss has crowded out your time with God. The enemy has invaded your territory and taken you captive, and now you just long to feel close to God again.
It’s time to set your heart on pilgrimage. The Hebrew for that verse literally reads “in whose hearts are the highways.”
You see, when they set their hearts on the highway to worship, even though they had to go through the valley of weeping, it became a place of springs to them. The second part of verse 6 reads, “the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” The Hebrew word for pools refers to blessings. When we set our hearts on God, even in the midst of our pain, He turns our desert into springs. He turns our burdens into blessings.
And notice when their strength came: as soon as they set their hearts on the highway! When did the blessings come? While they were still in the valley. Only God can turn a dry, arid valley into a fresh, flowing stream – a stream that brings life and pools of blessings. Verse 7 says that they go from strength to strength until they appear before God in Zion. In other words, God carried them from one place of strength to the next on their journey back to Jerusalem to worship Him. And He will do the same for us.
So even if you feel that life has taken its toll, and you just don’t have the strength to make it back to that place of worship you once knew, then just make the decision to turn toward Zion. Just allow your heart to take a few steps on the highway to worship. Because that’s when Jesus will step in and carry you from strength to strength. I don’t know how long your journey might take, but I can promise you this: when you find yourself back in that place of worship, you won’t regret one step of the road home.