TEXT: Psalm 23:4
Here is an interesting fact. In order to have green lush vegetation – you must have rain. Storms must come. Rain must fall. In order for lush green valleys you must have rain. That’s true in nature and it’s true in our lives too.
In the Bible there are many valleys that are viewed as problems.
- Joshua talks of about the Valley of Calamity.
- Psalm 84 talks about the Valley of Weeping.
- Hosea talks about the Valley of Trouble.
Today we are going to talk about a valley. Follow along with me as I read Psalm 23 verse 4. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
In Israel there is a real Valley of the Shadow of Death. It’s deep. It’s steep. It is a very narrow canyon. The sun only hits the floor of the valley at high noon. The rest of the time the valley is dark. David probably led his sheep through the valley when he was growing up. How do you handle the dark valleys in your life? I want to give you five facts about dark valleys.
- Dark valleys are UNAVOIDABLE.
They are going to happen in life – you can count on it. You may be coming out of one right now or you may be in the middle of one right now or you’re heading into one right now. No matter what – dark valleys are unavoidable. Job five seven says this: “Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 (HCSB) If you are human, there will be dark valleys in your life.
- Dark valleys are UNPREDICTABLE.
You can’t plan them or time them. Dark valleys are unscheduled. They usually come at the worst time – when you don’t have time for them and are unprepared for them.
Have you ever had a flat tire at a good time? Usually they come when we have to be somewhere and are running late. Look at what Jeremiah four twenty says: “Disaster after disaster is reported, for the whole land is destroyed. Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my tent curtains, in a moment.” Jeremiah 4:20 (HCSB) In a moment – at an unpredictable time – dark valleys show up.
- Dark valleys are IMPARTIAL.
NO ONE IS IMMUNE. No one escapes the problems of life. Everyone has problems – good people and bad people. Problems don’t care how good or bad you are. One of the first reactions most of us have is to ask the question, “Why me?” The real question we should be asking is, “Why not me?” Do you think you should be exempt from problems? Problems happen to everyone – including you. Matthew 5:45 says this: “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Why do we think we should be exempt from problems? (Dahil ba Christian tayo? Dahil mabait ka? Dahil ba nagbibigay ka sa Gawain? Oh no, all of us will have dark valleys in life, it’s impartial)
The good news is:
- Dark valleys are TEMPORARY.
They have an end. They don’t last forever. They are not our permanent residence. When you’re in a dark valley sometimes we think we are in a cave that has no way out. Dark valleys are like a tunnel – there is light at the other end. Troubles in your life don’t come to stay – they come to pass. First Peter five eleven says: “The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good.” 1 Peter 5:10 (MSG)
Even if you live 80 or 90 years and have problems all your life – that is so insignificant compared to the thousands and millions of years you have in Heaven – problem free. Five minutes in a dentist chair getting a root cannel can seem like eternity – but in reality it is but a short time which produces a great result – good healthy teeth. Problems are temporary – heaven is eternal.
- Dark valleys have a PURPOSE.
God has a reason for taking you through dark valleys. Whether you have a valley full of doubt, despair, discouragement, or defeat – God has a reason behind it. We think that valleys are unnatural – they are not – they are a natural part of the landscape. There are financial valleys, relationship valleys, emotional valleys, all kinds of valleys in our lives. You will get through them in time. Look at what first Peter chapter one says: “You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 (HCSB)
This verse tells me two things.
- Every problem has a purpose – The small problems or the big problems all have a purpose. They are there TO SHAPE US. As metal is put into the fire to make it pliable – so we go through problems is life. The fire heats the metal so it can be shaped and made useful.
- Faith is built in the valleys of life – How do you know if you will be faithful unless you are faced with unfaithfulness? How do you know how much endurance you have unless you have to face tough times? How do you know if you can trust God in difficult times – unless you go through tough times?
God’s goal in life is not to make you comfortable. His goal is to build your character. He is preparing you for eternity.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GO THROUGH DARK VALLEYS:
1. Refuse to be DISCOURAGED.
Let’s look at Psalm 23 again. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
I want to observe two very important things about this verse.
The first is: God doesn’t panic when you go through a problem. But neither do His sheep. The picture we get from this verse is that that the sheep aren’t frightened as they pass through the valley. Look at this verse again. Notice that it says that “I walk” through the valley. It doesn’t say – “I run.” It doesn’t say, “I quiver”. It doesn’t say, “I shake in my boots” No – it says “I walk.” I have sure footing – I take my time. THERE’S NO NEED TO PANIC.
The second thing I want you to look at are the words, “I will.” Circle those words – “I will”. “I will” IS A MATTER OF CHOICE. “I will” fear no evil. “I will” overcome this problem. With God’s help, “I will” get out of this hole I got myself into. One of the biggest adjustments you need make when you are going through problems is an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT.
Refuse to be discouraged. You can’t go around the valley. You can’t go under the valley. You can’t go over the valley. You must go through the valley.
But there is even more to it than just willing yourself through your problems. There is a reason why you should refuse to be discouraged. Look at the next phrase in verse four. “For You are with me;” Psalms 23:4 (NKJV)
God is with you every step of the way. God promises His presence.
2. Rely on God’s PRESENCE.
God does not and will never ever leave you alone. At verse four in the Psalm there is a great change in the language. Up to this point all the pronouns are in the third person. “He leads me.” “He guides me.” “He restores my soul.” Now the language changes from third person to second person pronouns. “You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” All of a sudden THE ULTIMATE becomes THE INTIMATE. When you are going through dark valleys you don’t want to talk about God – you want to talk to God. Religion becomes relationship. God says “I am with you. I will take you by the hand. I will lead you through this.” It’s during dark valleys that we need to know God is there. It’s during dark valleys that our faith is tested the most.
Illustration: (Mission in Zambales, having high cogon and raining so hard…night and very dark…)
Most of us who have never been in situation like that. Even when we are at home when the lights go out – there is usually some source light somewhere. The stars or the moon give off some light or a passing car will light things up a little. But it’s not that way in a remote area like that with a heavy rain. There is no source of light what so ever. It can be quite frightful.
One of the things you must do in that situation is to remember where you are and who you are with. You remember that you are with a group of people. You remember that your leader/spouse or a close friend is there with you. But most of all you remember that you have a guide who is there to lead you. This is like being in a dark valley. God is right there. You and I may not be able to see Him because of the darkness – but the fact remains that He is right there. Matthew 28:20 (NKJV) says: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
3. Rely on God’s PROTECTION.
David reminds us that God has a rod and a staff to protect us. The rod and the staff are basic tools for the shepherd. The rod is basically two feet long and has a knot at one end. Shepherds train to use the rod like a missile at anything that would endanger the sheep. Shepherds use the rod to protect their flock.
The staff is a long stick with a crock at the end of it. The staff is used to draw sheep out of a ditch or to pull them closer to the shepherd’s side. But the truth is the shepherd is there to protect His sheep. God has promised us His protection. John chapter ten says: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:29 (NKJV)
I want to close with three thoughts about shadows.
- Shadows are always BIGGER THAN REALITY. Fear is always greater than the problems you face.
- Shadows cannot HURT YOU. Have you ever been run over by a shadow? There is a big difference between a truck and a shadow. Shadows cannot hurt you – they can only scare you.
- Shadows only appear when there is a LIGHT SOURCE. You may be in a dark valley right now – but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The Bible says that God is light – and in Him there is no darkness. Trust Him. Believe in Him because: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:1-4 (NKJV)
- Tom Shephard
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