Summary: How can we go through hardships in life? Learn from David: (1) Accept the reality of the valleys in life, (2) watch how we respond to them, and (3) know the resources we have.
Psalm 23:4 “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."
King David is the best person to write such a psalm about the shepherd and sheep
• He was a shepherd, practically from childhood (following in the footsteps of his father Jesse), all the way to young adulthood.
• He writes from experience, the relationship of a shepherd with his sheep and mirrored it to our relationship with God, the Shepherd of our life.
Today we want to look at verse 4 alone, and learn the 3 perspectives to the journey of life. David says, “Even though I walk through the valley…”
(1) Accept the reality of the valley.
Why do they need to go through valley if that’s a difficult path?
• Shepherds tell us at least once a year they will take their flock on a longer journey to the mountains.
• During spring, they will glaze in the fields nearer home while the mountaintops are still covered with snow.
• And so summer is the time to seek newer fields further away - up the hills.
• The route takes them through the valleys – it’s cooler under the summer heat, and it’s a well-watered route.
• The journey may not be easy, but it is necessary.
There will be valleys in life. Days when the sun doesn’t shine as bright, when things look gloomy and sad.
• You wish to have mountain-top kind of feeling everyday, but that isn’t real.
• You failed your exam. Your good friend turned his back on you. Your boss tells you off. Nobody seems to be bothered with you.
• Don’t be too surprised by them. Valleys are inevitable.
(1) Learn to accept the reality of the valley.
• Don’t go into self-pity, and tell yourself that you’re the only one suffering so much, everyone is happy and I’m going through a tough time.
• That day on MSN someone wrote on the personal caption – “Everyone is against me because of Christianity. I’ll burnt all the bibles and pray to Satan.”
• Don’t fall into the trap. There will be persecution and problems in life.
• Life cannot always be smooth, always this mountain-top happy feeling.
• And God is not to blame. He is innocent. In fact, He is in it with us in the valley.
• So we need to stay strong and walk on.
But we must first accept the reality of the valley - there will be difficult days and difficult times.
• Everyone will face them. Some more, some less. Some deeper, others not so deep. Some longer, some shorter. But we’ll all face them.
Listen to what Jesus said:
• Matt 5:45 “…He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
• Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33) but before and after this, He said we can find peace in Him.
• John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
• In order words, we are told to LOOK at Him and not the troubles.
(2) Watch how we respond in the valley.
It will either make you or break you.
Don’t focus on the valley. Focus on the Shepherd, the One who is with you.
• Declare to God your faith in Him, like David did.
• Notice in the first part of the Psalm David talks about God in the third person – He is my shepherd, He makes me lie down, He leads me, He restores my soul…
• Now in verse 4, He talks to God - "I am not afraid, because You’re with me; I am going to go through difficult journey safely because You’re here; I can feel secure because You are capable of protecting me, with the rod and staff in Your hand…”
• It’s a prayer. In the midst of difficult circumstances, fearful times, declare your victory in Christ, our faith in God.
David says “I will walk, I will not fear, and I will get through…”
• He is not “psyching” himself… He is basing it on TRUTH – He is reminding himself of the truth of God’s Word, what God has promised.
• We are to keep on walking, even thought it is difficult. Be determined to go on and not give in to fear or intimidation.
Look at David’s attitude –
he did not say, “I walk IN the valley” but “I WALK THROUGH the valley.”
• The valley is temporary. The sheep needs to go through to reach the grassland.