Ever walked through one of life’s valleys? A dry, unwanted place caused by some life-changing event that challenged your hopes and dreams, that amplified your mistakes and shortcomings? We’ve all been there, but we don’t have to stay there.

Psalm 23 tells us not to be afraid in the valley, because God is with us. Philippians 4:13 promises that, no matter how difficult the valley, we’ll make it through, with the strength Jesus gives us.

But it’s still hard. In the valley, we may be tempted to doubt whether God’s good plan for us will ever come to pass (Jeremiah 29:11) or whether we’ll ever really experience the true depth of His love.

As one who has experienced many valleys in life, let me remind you that your valley doesn’t have the power to defeat you. You might not be able to avoid the low spots, but you can control how your experiences there define your future.

I have experienced seven valleys in my life—sickness, divorce, death, poverty, injustice, betrayal, and failure. Maybe you’ve seen the same ones, or maybe you’ve experienced others. Whatever your situation, remember: God created you to have dominion over your circumstances, not for your circumstances to rule over you.

Here are some keys that I’ve found helpful when I’m in the valley. See if they’ll work for you too.

  • Control your conversation, inside and out. Pay attention to and learn to control your inner voice. The things you tell yourself should match what God says about you—who you are and what you can do. Also guard carefully what comes out of your mouth. The words you use and the ones spoken over you that you accept as truth form mental maps that impact how you see the world and yourself. That perception determines your destiny. Don’t accept a negative narrative.
  • Shift your thinking. You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37). Refuse to think otherwise. Base your life’s philosophy on God’s truth and not your experience or feelings. Second Corinthians 10:5 says to take every thought captive and make it obedient to God’s truth. That is a daily choice.
  • Act consistently with faith, not fear. Speak and think words of faith, then take courageous steps that line up with that faith. Don’t let fear stop you. Your actions should match what you believe about the possibilities of your future.
  • Take action. Take definitive action in every area of your life where you want to see improvement. Don’t wait till things are better—do it today, while you’re still in the valley. Consistency comes from studying God’s Word, making it personal for yourself, and surrounding yourself with likeminded people.
  • Take responsibility for the condition of your life. Whether you’re suffering because of a choice you’ve made or because of someone else’s action, take responsibility for changing it. That’s your job. God will give you the grace you need to go through this hard time and come out the other side stronger spiritually. Trust Him and stop making excuses. †