Summary: Part 9 of 10 in a series dedicated to debunking commonly held myths that we think are in the Bible but really aren't, myths that can and often do have devastating effects on our faith.
INTRODUCTION: To begin I’m going to share a little bit of “my story,” and it’s not a part that I look back on with any amount of fondness. My first ministry experience could be defined by a single word – “Miserable” I’ll spare the details, but suffice to say it was an emotionally, physically, and professionally crushing experience. I was a naïve young preacher who was going to go out and do what I had trained to do… “Rock the world for Jesus!” I “stepped out in faith,” and while I knew there would be hard times nothing prepared me for the “mother of all smack-downs” I received for doing so! My “valley” began almost immediately, and would continue for the next 11 months… and in the process I was convinced that I had made a massive “wrong-turn.” Many others have had similar experiences, maybe even you! Many times these experiences overwhelm us, and in such we turn to the next “dumb thing” on the list…
BACKGROUND: So where did we get this idea that a “valley” = a wrong turn? I think it comes from the idea that every “valley” we face is a “negative” and since “negative = bad” then our being there must be a mistake especially if there’s no end in sight! We think the only place God leads is to the Mountaintop! The idea is prevalent in the church and our culture and the consequences can be devastating to our faith…
WHY AM I HERE?
• If a “valley doesn’t necessarily mean a wrong turn then what exactly does it mean? Well “valleys” come in all shapes and sizes and no two of them are the same.
• Some immediately have the end in sight, others seem as if they will plague us for eternity, some are self-inflicted, others simply the result of residing in a corrupted world, while others are obviously bearing out the will of God, which we may not understand till after it’s over
• When we consider the question about how we ended up in the valley we’re in there are 3 options
• (1) God Sent Me Here – Sometimes the “valleys” we face are ones that God leads us into, and sometimes their tough situations – consider Moses (Exodus 14:1-4;11)
• The “Will of God” will never lead you where the “Grace of God” cannot keep you…
• (2) I Messed Up – Sometimes the “valleys” are ones that we ourselves cause, sometimes all it takes is us getting out of bed or is because of a bad “choice” on our part (Israel’s cycle of subjugation)
• (3) Who Knows – Sometimes the “valleys” come for reasons we can’t put our finger on (Job)
• Job had a sudden run of bad luck.. Job didn’t get it, his wife didn’t get it, his friends certainly didn’t get it… and at the end God shows up, but never tells Job why it all happened. We only know because the reason is recorded for our benefit in the beginning of the book!
HOW SHOUD I RESPOND?
• Whenever we experience anything negative, our initial responses are typically “knee-jerk” in nature… this is indeed true when the “valleys” come our way. When we considering the issue of how we should respond there are 3 things to keep in mind
• (1) The Enemy Will Offer A Shortcut (Matthew 4:1-11) whatever you do DON’T take it!
• Satan offered Jesus a shortcut, and I’m sure it was appealing (to his mortal flesh) but He resisted!
• In my situation the short-cut was righteous retaliation – “throw down the hammer of the Word”
• Scripture was on my side, and I had just enough bible knowledge to be “dangerous”
• (2) In a “Self-Made” Mess – Accept the Consequences (Hebrews 12:5-8) God the father disciplines
• (3) In a “God-Given” Task – Don’t Run – we may not understand, but God does, and besides in “running” you may find yourself in the belly of a big fish! (1st Peter 4:19)
• If God in his “providence” sees that we can benefit from a valley then let us commit to it!
• Providence = the care, preservation, and government that God exercises over creation
• Also while we’re traveling through the valley, there are several things required of the Christian
• (1) Do the Right Thing – while we may be tempted act in any way that benefits us we can’t
• (2) Tell the Truth – even if lying would alleviate the situation, honesty is the “only” option
• (3) Keep Commitments – just because valleys begin, life doesn’t stop! (Matthew 5:37)
• (4) Concern for Others – our actions never just impact “us”
• (5) Concern For God’s Reputation – let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27) Paul here is saying that we should live as “citizens” of the Kingdom of God