Facing The Hills, Valleys

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was submitted for publicaiton prior to Hurricane Irma’s recent devastation in the Caribbean and Florida.

I have been brought to tears watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey. Strangely, I have also been uplifted by the recent flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey. From the families praising God for the volunteers who saved their lives to the moms and dads and children who are simply in a state of shock after losing all that they own, it certainly has shown me scenes of people who are seeing the hills and the valleys of life.

Today I was listening to one of my favorite songs, “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells, on the K-LOVE Christian music station. I listened even closer to the words today and could not help but think of the thousands of people in Houston and the sheer horror they must be facing. Tauren speaks to so many with his words that express his feelings that his God is the God of both the hills and valleys in his life. He praises and thanks God for when he stands on top of the hill experiencing great joy. However, he also knows God is still with him when he faces those tough times when you don’t feel you can go on.

I have been so blessed in my life with wonderful hills of joy such as the birth of my three children, but I also have gone through valleys that tore through the depths of my soul when my son Matthew died suddenly. Surprisingly, my faith seemed to strengthen during that time of grief. I honestly believe that God sent many people into my life during that time to lift me up until I could stand on my own and come out of that valley of grief. I saw the face of God in each person that lifted me up and knew that it was no accident that these people crossed my path.

The people in Texas also have had help climbing out of their time of great trial. From the hundreds who showed up with their own boats to save strangers, to the families taking in fellow Houstonians, to the businesses opening their doors so those most vulnerable have a dry place to finally find rest. Yes, their time of difficulty is far from over, but this overwhelming response of caring and assistance renews my faith in my fellow man. They saw someone in need and they stepped forward to help pull so many people from the valleys of despair –from the edge of death to new life.

I really did not know much about the people of Houston before this terrible tragedy occurred other than the fact that the city did take in several thousand people affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. How ironic they now face a very similar tragedy. Tonight on the news, they showed a woman volunteering to help those affected by this tragedy. She, too, had gone through the same thing in Katrina and just wanted to give back to Houston in thanks for all they had done for her.

The singer has stated that his song is about “when you’re on the mountaintops of life, learn to bow low … and when you’re in the valleys of life, learn to stand tall.” The people of Houston are standing tall, and I know in time there will be rebuilding and healing. For now, we do what we can from a distance. We pray for them … we send donations … and we hope that each person received the hand of a friend to lift them up and pull them out of the valley so one day they can stand on that mountain again.

Bless you, Houston, through all those hills and valleys.

Mary Velez is the community outreach director and the corporate director of volunteer services at Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital. She obtained a master’s degree from West Virginia University in community health education. She has a bachelor’s degree from West Liberty State College in physical education and special education and taught school in West Virginia for nine years.