Situated between old neighborhoods and new businesses, a 30-year-old community pool seems oddly out of place. The old pool and its adjacent building sag from forlorn neglect. Left uncovered, the pool fills with rain and debris; its algae-coated, muddied contents belying the cool, crisp water of youthful summers long past. More than an eyesore, it withholds hope. Not far down the road, though, the irony of nature withstands the passing of time. Hidden from view, a natural spring is hardly noticeable as overgrown bushes and vines guard its never-ending flow of fresh water.

Difficult places determine who we become. The psalmists knew times of great intimacy with the Lord, but they also knew hard places of struggle (Psalm 42:3). Their hope rested in the presence of God. Convinced of God's sovereignty, the author wrote, "A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!" (84:10).

Contrary to what we may believe, we are not victims of our circumstances. We can, however, allow bitterness and offense to drain every bit of hope we have (Hebrews 12:15). Even worse, we can enter into a stale, stagnant acceptance that God has simply called us to travail in our existence (Numbers 21:5).

"Those whose strength comes from the Lord" (Psalm 84:5), however, keep His worship at the forefront, and "they walk through the Valley of Weeping" (v.6). A place of surrender, the valley teaches us that there is no one like our God. This act of submission releases His presence in our lives. Unlike the bitter rainwater in the old pool, the dry places in our hearts fill with life-giving water when we choose to praise Him. Moreover, when we understand that God's love for us is bigger than our trials, what seems to be nothing more than overgrown chaos reveals hidden springs of life. , Regina Franklin, Our Daily Journey

CLICK HERE to visit OurDailyJourney.org