Line Upon Line with Lawrence Yap
1 September 2020 | Psalms 23
“Even 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.”
There is an old Arab parable that says: “All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.” If you never have any downtimes, dark times, gloomy times in your life you’ll be dried up. You’ll have no depth to yourself, no maturity. It takes good times and bad times to make a mature person. Life is a mixture of pain and pleasure, of victory and defeat, of success and failure, of mountain tops and valleys.
Today, we will focus on “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
In Israel there is a real Valley of the Shadow of Death. It’s a steep, deep and narrow canyon. The sun only hits the bottom of it when it’s directly overhead at high noon. The rest of the time the bottom of the canyon is dark. David probably led his sheep through the valley of the shadow of death as he was growing up.
Now – what is this valley of the shadow of death all about?
As you look in the Bible, the term “valley” refers to all kinds of rough times in life. Psalm 84 talks about the Valley of Weeping (Baca). Hosea talks about the Valley of Trouble.
How do I handle the dark valleys of life?
There are five facts about valleys that you need to remember whenever you go through a tough time:
- Valley Experience will Come!
–It is Inevitable.
They are going to happen.
You have just come out of a valley, or you’re in one right now, or you’re probably headed toward one. Valleys happen throughout life — one right after another. After every mountain top there is a valley.
Jesus was very realistic about it. In John 16, He says “In the world you will have trouble.” It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. It’s going to happen. You’re going to have difficulty, disappointment, discouragement in life. There will be times of suffering, sorrow, sickness. There will be times of frustration, failure and fatigue. They are going to happen. They are a normal part of life.
- Valley Experience will Come but you don’t know When.
–It is unpredictable.
You can’t plan them, time them. Valleys are always unexpected. They usually come at the worst time — when you don’t have time, when you’re unprepared. Have you ever had a flat tire at a good time? They just happen. And usually when you least need them and it’s most inconvenient. It would be very great if we could schedule our down times in life. You can’t plan life like that.
Valleys come suddenly. They are unpredictable. Have you noticed how easily a good day can become a bad day? A phone call, a letter, a routine doctor’s check-up, a freak accident. Valleys just happen. Jeremiah 4:20 “Disaster follows disaster… In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter falls in a moment.”
- Valley Experience is for Everyone!
-It is impartial.
No one is immune to them. No one is insulated from pain and sorrow. Everybody has problems — good people and bad people.
Problems, trials, difficulties, disturbances, downtimes, depression doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’re an evil human being; it means you’re a human being.
The Bible is very clear that good things happen to bad people and sometimes bad things happen to good people. Valleys are impartial. They don’t care how good or bad you are. Matthew 5:45 Jesus said, “It rains on the just and the unjust too.” When we go through a difficult time — a valley in life — the first reaction is always “Why me?” Yet really you should ask “Why not me?” Do you think you should be exempt from all the problems everybody else has to go through? Do you think you should be the only one in the universe that never has a tragedy, a loss, looses a loved one? Instead of saying “Why me?” just realize it may happen because you’re a human being. Remember this is not heaven. Things are not perfect here and there are problems and difficulties.
- Valley Experience has an expiry date.
-It is temporary.
‘Valleys’ have an end to them. They don’t last. They are not a permanent location. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley…” The valley is not something you stay in your entire life. It’s something you go through — a circumstance, a situation that has a season to it.
When you’re in a valley you often think it’s a dead end, but it’s not. It’s like a tunnel — there is a beginning and end. You go through the tunnel and eventually you’re out of it and back out in the light again. They don’t come into your life to stay. They come to pass.
I Peter 1:6 “There is a wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.” He admits that sometimes you’re going to go through tough times. It’s going to be rough. Life is tough. You’re going to have it. But it’s only for a while. There is wonderful joy ahead. He’s talking about Heaven.
There are no problems in heaven, no valleys, no dark days. While you may be harassed down here, in heaven you’ll have no problems. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s where you’re going. He says don’t get discouraged. “Our troubles are short lived and there is an eternal glory which outweighs them all.”
- Valley Experience is Purposeful.
Every problem has a purpose. Even the little tiny ones, the inconsequential ones, the things that seem like mere irritations. They have a purpose.
God has a reason for taking you through the valleys. Whether it’s doubt, depression, despair, discouragement, defeat — He’s got a reason behind it.
James 1:2-4 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
What can be achieved in the valleys of life?
- Character is built in the valleys of life.
God can teach you character. He wants to change you, mature you.
God is far more interested in your character than He is in your comfort or your convenience. God’s goal in life is not to just make life comfortable for you. He wants to build character. He’s more interested in your holiness than He is in your happiness. Holiness lasts, happiness doesn’t. He wants to make you like Jesus Christ. He wants you to develop the character of Christ.
- Faith is built in the valleys of life.
There are financial valleys, relational valleys, emotional valleys, all kinds of different trials. “…This is no accident — it happens to prove your faith…”
The valleys are not just a freak of nature. God wants to build your faith in the valleys of life. We love to enjoy the mountain tops, but you don’t build faith on the mountain tops. You build faith in the valleys of life. When everything is going fine and great you don’t really need God. But when you come face to face with a dark valley, you get on your knees. Faith is strengthened in the valleys. There will be a benefit for our problem if we respond to it correctly.