Summary: This is the fifth sermon in this series dealing with stress. It deals with how to handle with adversity.
Passing Through Dark Valleys
How to Deal With Adversity
I have a riddle for you this morning. What do you get in a land where all you have is sunshine every day and no rain? Do you know what you get? You get a desert. 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. Even in our country we have a famous valley called Death Valley.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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 unpredicatable time - dark valleys show up.
3. 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." Matthew 5:45 (HCSB)
Why do we think we should be exempt from problems? The good news is:
4. 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. You’re not – 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.
5. 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: