The setting of this quote is that Hudson Taylor arrived in China to serve the Lord as a missionary. When he arrived, the country was war-torn and he was unable to find a place to live. He was forced to rely upon and live with other missionaries. New missionaries from his organization were due to come and he needed to find a new house for himself and for the new missionaries. Thus, he takes the matter to the Lord:
"And to his sister Amelia he added, two days later:
I have been puzzling my brains again about a house, etc., but to no effect. So I have made it a matter of prayer, and have given it entirely into the Lord's hands, and now I feel quite at peace about it. He will provide and be my guide in this and every other perplexing step.
"Quite at peace about it"- with such serious difficulties ahead? A situation he could not meet, needs for which he had no provision and no possibility of making any, a problem he has puzzled over until he was baffled, and to no effect! "So I have made it a matter of prayer," is the simple, restful conclusion, "and have given it entirely into the Lord's hands. He will provide and be my Guide in this as in every other perplexing step."
Yes, this is how it ever has been, ever must be with the people of God. Until we are carried quite out of our depth, beyond all our own wisdom and resources, we are not more than beginners in the school of faith. Only as everything fails us and we fail ourselves, finding out how poor and weak we really are, how ignorant and helpless, do we begin to draw upon abiding strength. "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee"; not partly in Thee and partly in himself. The devil often makes men strong, strong in themselves to do evil-great conquerors, great acquirers of wealth and power. The Lord on the contrary makes His servant weak, puts him in circumstances that will shew him his own nothingness, that he many lean upon the strength that is unfailing. It is a long lesson for most of us; but it cannot be passed over until deeply learned. And God Himself thinks no trouble too great, no care too costly to teach us this.
Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord Thy God led Thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble Thee and to prove thee and to know what was in thine heart,...that He might make thee know...
Yes, "all that long, wearisome, painful experience, infinitely well worth while in sight of the Eternal, if it produced one moral, spiritual trait in the people He was educating:- what a scale of values!"
At which point in our meditation, fresh light was thrown upon this from the eighty-fourth Psalm, by an aged saint drawing upon the fulness of his own experience.
"Speaking to my students one day," he said, "I asked them: 'Young men, which is the longest, widest, most populous valley in the world?' And they began to summon up all their geographical information to answer me.
"But it was not the valley of the Yangtze, the Congo, or the Mississippi. Nay, this Jammerthal, as it is in our German, this valley of Baca, or weeping, exceeds them all. For six thousand years we trace it back, filled all the way with an innumerable multitude. For every life passes at some time into the Vale of Weeping.
"But the point for us is not what do we suffer here, but what do we leave behind us? What have we made of it, this long, dark Valley, for ourselves and for others? What is our attitude when we pass through its shadows? Do we desire only, chiefly, the shortest way out? Or do we seek to find it, to make it, according to His promise, 'a place of springs': here a spring and there a spring, for the blessing of others and the glory of Our God?
"Thus it is with a man 'whose strength is in Thee.' He has learned the preciousness of this Jammerthal, and that these dry, hard places yield the springs for which the hearts are thirsting the wide world over.
"So St. Paul in his life. What a long journey he had to make through the Valley of Weeping!
"'In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day have I been in the deep. In journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils among false brethren. In weariness and in painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
"A long journey indeed through the Valley of Weeping; but oh, what springs of blessing! What rain filling the pools! We drink of it still today."
And is not this the meaning, dear reader, of your life and mine in much that is hard to be understood? The Lord loves us too well to let us miss the best. He has to weaken our strength in the way, to bring us to the Valley of Weeping, to empty, humble, and prove us, that we too may know that our strength, every bit of it, is in Him alone, and learn as Hudson Taylor did to leave ourselves entirely in His hands.
So your Valley of Weeping shall become "a place of springs." Many shall drink of the living water, because you have suffered, trusted, conquered through faith in God. You go on your way as He has promised, to appear at last in Zion, rejoicing before God; and in the Valley of Weeping remains for those that follow many a well, still springing up in blessing where your feet have trod."
Hudson Taylor: In Early Years, the Growth of a Soul by Mrs Hudson Taylor, pg. 226-228
What a precious reminder for us!