The Believer’s Valley Experiences – Radio Classic – Dr. Charles Stanley

How Can We Pray For You? Have you signed up yet?

Radio Classics are sermons from Dr. Stanley’s radio ministry released to encourage and build your relationship with Jesus Christ.

With a message from god’s word, here’s Charles Stanley.
Our text for this message is probably the most familiar passage in all the Bible.
In fact, I can remember when I was a school kid, that everybody had to memorize this passage.
And usually, you will hear this passage of scripture read at almost every single funeral, oftentimes, it is red with a bedside of someone who is very, very ill.
And I’m sure that many of us have read the stories of men in war who in times of great fear pulled out their little pocket new testament in the back of which was the Psalms, and they began to read out of fear, desiring courage, and the presence of god to read, the lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
So when you turn to the 23rd Psalm, and I want us to read this Psalm, this one particular phrase and fast it in here, that I want us to deal with, and the title of this message is the Believer’s Valley experiences.
The Believer’s Valley experiences and If we all read out of the same version, we just all stand up and read it together.
But since we have many different ones, it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense. So beginning in verse 1.
The lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake.
Even though I walk, through the valley of the shadow of death.
I fear no evil, but thou art with me thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Bell prepares the table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou has anointed my head with oil.
My cup overflows, Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.
Well, as we think about this particular Psalm, I want us to look at, if you will, at the 4th verse, and notice what he says in this 4th verse.
Even though I walk, through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Oftentimes in the Bible, validates are indications or symbols of times of difficulty, hardship, trial, suffering, and pain.
And I want us to look at this passage in the light of that title, and that is the believer’s Valley experiences.
And I wanna say three things, primarily, and the first one is this, that Valley experiences are inevitable in the life of every believer.
Valley experiences are inevitable in the life of every believer.
For example, if you have mountains, you’re going to have valleys. You can’t have a mountain peep without a valley.
Now most of us would like for our Christian life to be from peak to peak when we we just like to go from peak to peak and somehow be able to avoid the valleys.
But you can’t have a mountain peak without having a valley.
Topographically, as far as the land is concerned, where you’ve got beautiful mountains, you’ve got valleys.
And the same thing is true in the life of the believer.
There are going to be those value experiences in our life.
And if you’ll notice in this passage, how he begins, he says, the lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want. And then what we have is this beautiful description of the shepherd, leading the sheep into the meadows on the hillsides.
He says he makes me to lie down in green pastures, leads me beside quiet waters, restores my soul, guides me in the paths of righteousness, and then notice verse 4, heaven says it.
He says, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even though I do that, which is his way of saying it’s not the norm.
God does not intend for us to live in the valleys, Oh, that’s our normal way of life.
But there will be those seasons in our life, those times in our life, those experiences that become valley experience.
It’s times of difficulty, hardship, trial, pain, rejection. You name it. They’re there.
And so what he’s saying in this passage here even though I walk through these, he says, I will fear no evil.
Notice the four words he mentions in that 4th verse.
He speaks of shadows, of death, of fear, and of evil.
All four of those indicate something to us about the nature of the walk in the valley.
And so when he says, even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, he’s talking about hardship and pain suffering in trials and tribulations and heartaches and burdens that we go through in life.
And oftentimes, we feel hopeless. Oftentimes, we feel helpless.
And no matter what anybody does, we feel absolutely totally dependent upon god, or if that person is not a believer, they have to do something else to find out how to help themselves through the valley experiences.
This is why the bars filled in the afternoons about 5 o’clock. They call that the happy hour.
It’s certainly not a happy hour.
If you look around, you’ll notice if you’re in a restaurant, they don’t look all that happy.
But what they’re doing is trying to escape the value experiences that they’re going through and think about a person who is not a believer.
A person who doesn’t have god to turn to And then when the bottom drops out, then when they go through some valley experience in life, what do they do?
They have to drink. They have to take pills. They have to do something.
They have to have some kind of experiences or affairs of some sort in order to get their mind off of the pain, off of the hurt, off of the rejection, off of the loneliness, off of those indescribable feelings which they are trying to avoid.
So what he’s saying in this passage is simply this?
All of us are going through some of these experiences in our life. It may be because of finances.
It may be because of family. It may be because of health.
It may be because of vocation or whatever it might be.
There’s no such thing as living in this life without value experiences.
One of the reasons for that is because of the end result of those valid experiences, which will come to a bit later.
You and I live in a world of sin and of evil. There are 2 forces uh, fighting each other.
And that is the forces of righteousness and the forces of evil.
Likewise, there are situations and circumstances in life that thrust us oftentimes into those valley experiences.
And so as I think about it, one of the things that I want to mention here and discuss is the fact that there are reasons and why is it we end up invalid experiences.
Now if you’re wise this morning, you get your pencil and piece of paper out, and you won’t miss a lot of this.
Because I wanna tell you, if you’re sitting here today and you’re single, I’ve never been through one of those, then my dear friend, get ready, because there is no such thing is walking on a mountain peak without hitting the valley.
There are valleys in their life, and there are valleys there for several reasons.
So let’s talk about, first of all, why We go through these difficult trying times that are so painful, so heart wrenching, and so unbelievably, causing us to feel so helpless.
Well, one of the reasons is this. And that is the sheep strays away from the shepherd.
For example, if the sheep strays away from the shepherd, they’re going to stray usually in the wrong places.
And so when we choose to be disobedient to god, We choose to transgress this law to violate his principle.
What happens is we end up in the valley.
So one of the reasons we get there is we get there by our own decisions.
A second reason we may end up in a valley experience is because of the actions of some other people or someone else.
For example, uh, fella said to me this week, He was telling me about his vocation, and he was doing his job.
He was faithful. He was real respected, uh, in his particular vocation, doing a good job.
Because of his conviction and because, uh, uh, he felt like he had to make a statement of where he was, what he could and could not do.
They fired him just like that with no warning. So suddenly, he found himself in the valley.
He had a family to take care of, no job, and no income.
So oftentimes, it’s because of someone else’s decisions or their actions.
And then there’s a third reason we get in the ballot. And that’s this.
That’s because the shepherd leads us into the valley.
You see, the reason we get into these valley experiences are not always because of what we do or what someone else does.
Sometimes it is god’s design for our life.
Now as a result of that, what he does, he leads us into a place and leads us a way he desires to get us where he wants us to be.
One way is the way most of us would like to go in light.
When we see a difficulty, what we’d like to do is we would like to walk around the pain and the hurt and the suffering and the trial and the tribulation and rejection and get there.
That’s one way. And you can get there that way some time.
But sometime when the good shepherd, the Bible calls him, is leading us, here’s what he does.
He knows he can lead us around that way. That’s no problem with him.
He knows as the path around that way, but you see, what he has in mind is a purpose over here for our life.
And because that purpose is so clear and that destination is so clear to him, he chooses god in his grace and goodness and love chooses not to lead us the easy path but to lead us into the valley of difficulty, hardship, trial, pain, and intense suffering like we have never experienced before, we get to the same place, but this is the most difficult way.
Sometime it is a deep, dark, treacherous valley. Notice what he said.
He said valleys of shadow, death, fear, evil. These things indicate something about the difficulty of that valley.
Sometimes, we’re in the valley because god and his wisdom chooses to lead us the most difficult way to arrive at the destination for which he wants us.
And so when he says here that, um, uh, the even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even though we do it, And I want you to remember also what he says in this passage.
And if you’ll notice 2 things here, uh, and sometimes what god says, what he doesn’t say is as powerful as what he does say.
Look at that verse. He does not say this. He doesn’t say even though I may walk through the valley.
Even though I might do it. No. Even though I walk, because, friend, it is inevitable.
That experiences are absolutely inevitable in the life of every single person. Notice something else he doesn’t say.
He doesn’t say even though I’ll even though I run, rush, and hurry through the valley.
Now that’s the way I like to get through them. I wanna run through them quickly.
In fact, the truth is I’d like to put them a blindfold and just run through it right quick and not hear anything and see anything and feel anything.
Just get through that guy. Just get me through that guy. But you know what he said?
Even though I, what, walk through the valley.
And that may not, not might, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
And so when he makes this statement, what he’s simply saying is this, it’s going to happen.
And I remember meeting a lady one time went to her home, and her sister was there and her mother, and she was dying of, some disease.
I’ve forgotten exactly what it was. I remember what she told me.
She said, you know, all of my life, I thought everybody had it the way I had it.
And she drove the finest automobile. She had plenty of money.
Uh, everything in the world, anybody could ever imagine, and here she was in her late thirties, uh, dying, and she died about 2 weeks later.
And she said, you know, I guess my life was such that I just thought everybody had it the way I had it.
No. They don’t. And what I discovered is in the last few weeks, there are more people hurting with more pain and more suffering and more hurt than I’ve ever discovered in my life.
Because all of a sudden, when somebody feels that somebody else is hurting, then they somehow feel the freedom and the liberty to say, you know, I’m hurting too, and I wanna tell you about my hurts.
Well, these value experiences are a part of every single believer’s life, and there is no way to escape them.
Sometimes we try, but there’s no way.
And so when he says, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil thou art with me.
He is giving us the most important part of this whole passage of scripture.
This is the most important part.
Because if you’ll think about it for a moment, he says, The lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want wonderful. And he says, he’s gonna take us to green pastures, quiet waters, restore our soul, and god is in the paths of righteousness.
But you know what? Suppose you read that whole Psalm, and he talks about preparing a table before us and head being annoyed with oil and kept running over.
Suppose he left out this part. Val, art with me.
If he left out that part, the heart and the core of this Psalm would be missing, because that’s what this Psalm is all about.
It is a Psalm of comfort and of assurance and of reminding of us that we’re gonna go through those experiences of life that are so difficult and painful and hard that the only thing we have is god.
And so I just want to say to you today that no matter what experience you’re going through, whatever it might be, Ask yourself the question.
God, why am I here? Number 1, and secondly, lord, what is your goal?
And so I wanna say this two or three times in this message.
If you think you’re going through a valley or you think you’re just getting ready to head into it, and sometimes you don’t walk into it.
You drop into it. You don’t just sort of find your way from the Metas and the mountain down to the valley.
Suddenly, you’re from the mountain peak all the way to the depths of the valley.
And what you have to ask is, father, what is your goal for this valley experience in my life?
And, father, how am I to respond to this valley experience in my life.
Those are always the wise 2 question to ask. Number 1, father, what is your goal?
And second, and lord, how might the respond to this valley experience?
So the first thing I want you to notice here, and that is that valid experiences are absolutely inevitable in the life of every person.
It doesn’t make any difference how old you are, one of these days you’re coming through them.
Make sure that it’s how rich you are, how poor, how educated, they’re uneducated, where your status is in life, value experiences, difficulty, hardship, child suffering pain, it is always going to be times and seasons in our life.
The second thing I want you to notice that’s very evident here, and that is this.
And that is that Valley experiences are painful times in our life. Painful times in our life.
Look at this passage. Look at look at the words in this verse.
He says, the shadow of death, fear, evil, all of these indicate something is going on.
Now These four words indicate something of the nature of the valley.
Notice he said, green pastures, quiet waters, guarded paths, restored refresh soul, and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
You see, this isn’t just some, uh, little pain you get with a toothache or a bad cold.
We’re talking about intense kind of pain that happens when a person goes through about it.
As I say, whatever the reason, it may be something of your own doings, it may be something that somebody else has caused or it may be, that god has chosen to lead us through that valley.
Whatever it might be, the pain is still going to be there.
And so when I look at that and think about the kind of pain we’re talking about here.
And what he says, when he speaks about valleys, that indicates something of, uh, a shadow of something of uncertainty.
When he talks about death, something of destruction, something that is threatening.
When he talks about fear, anxiety, and dread, And he talks about evil, threatenings, uh, temptations, all that go along with that.
And at those periods and seasons of time, for some reason, god may allow it.
Or it is our own doings. Here’s what we have to think about.
We’re not talking about little little pains or little hurts here and there.
We’re talking about the kind of intense pain that is indescribable.
We’re talking about the kind of hurt that you cannot describe to someone else.
We’re talking about the kind of hopelessness and helplessness that words cannot express.
The dark valleys that he would oftentimes lead us through.
And so we’re talking about a degree of distress that is more than just a little distress.
A deep degree of of tension and feeling it in your whole physical body, as well as your motion, and your spirit, everything on the gets inside of you gets tested.
And that is There seems to be some kind of awesome invasion of your innermost being your innermost spirit, the deepest part of you.
And when you weep, you don’t weep from your t from your eyes, you weep from your spirit deep down inside.
There is a pain that is indescribable in some walks in the valley.
And so when he says, yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we’re not talking about some little testing of a faith that ends up today.
And it’s just a matter of time, maybe a few days all over.
Yea though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.
And the reason he put that word in it, because He wanted to emphasize the intensity of the pain and the and the alarming threat that we face when we walk through that valley.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Now there are a couple of things about this valley I want us to look at.
And first of all, I wanna mention the fact that the length of that valley.
Sometimes the valley is short. Sometimes it’s long.
For example, here’s a person who goes to the doctor and The doctor says, uh, you have a terminal illness.
And 2 weeks later, a month later, they found out it was a wrong diagnosis.
And so that was a short lived valley. Praise the lord.
Or sometimes, a person like the one I mentioned a few moments ago, they lose their job, and They get to have no prospects for a couple of weeks or 3 weeks.
It looks like it’s gonna be a long drawn out process.
And out of the blue, somebody calls them, says I’m looking for somebody who’s your qualifications.
They’re out of the valley. They would be great if all valleys were that short, but they’re not.
And sometimes, the doctor says the person you have cancer. And they type that you have.
There’s no cure for it. 1 month, 2 months, 6 months. 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, the hurt, the pain, the suffering, all the anger that they go through, all the guilt, all the anger to it god, all the emotions that crop up in someone’s life, who goes through that kind of awful experience, 2 years, two and a half years, 3 years, their family watches them die a day at a time.
That is in a short valley, and that’s no painless valley.
That is a deep, dark, painful valley that only a person who’s been there understands.
And my friend, before you walk up to someone else, instead of them, will I just pray in to you?
And I understand, be sure you do understand where they are.
Because you see, I’m not sure anybody understands where someone else is until they’ve been where they are.
And even then, I want you to remember something, that god does not work in any two people’s lives the same way.
No 2 valleys are the same for anyone. Their valleys are similar, but no two people’s valleys are the same.
And so when you and I wanna console someone, we have to be sure.
When we say I know what you’re going through, I know how you feel, be sure you know how they feel and what they’re going through because you’ve been there.
There are some valleys that are very long, very painful, very dark, very treacherous, little hope.
There are some ballets that are short.
We would all like for them to be short, but since we’re not sovereigning and god is, He’s the one who determines how long and how short they are.
And what is it that determines how long and how short they are?
First of all, his purpose for allowing us to be in the valley and secondly, our response to being in the valley.
But there’s a second thing about the valley, not on the length of time, but the second thing is that is the difference in the depth of that valley.
Some valleys are very, very deep.
Listen to what he says, even though I walk to the valley of the shadow of death, Some valleys are very deep and very dark.
Now I’ve had the wonderful privilege of traveling lots of places and and, uh, not climbing to the top of, but climbing up to a comfortable place in enough mountains and to be able to see distances from the peaks of some mountains I love the mountains and I love the valleys.
Some valleys are beautiful. Some valleys are very deep and some are dark and treacherous.
And when we talk about the depth of the valley, again, it depends on what god’s up to in our life.
And when he talks about Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that indicates that there are some valleys that are very, very threatening to us.
That set off alarms in us, those values that we have to walk through very, very carefully, that we make every step the right step.
That we have to have wisdom, the wisdom of the good shepherd to guide us through it step by step.
Because, uh, on different occasions, people in valleys, traveling, take the wrong step, fall hurt themselves, and sometimes break a leg, or break a arm, or whatever it might be.
There’s some bellies that are very dark and bear treacherous. The same thing is true in the spiritual walk.
There’s some that are very dark and bear treacherous. And we have to be extremely careful.
And I think all of us could probably think about some valleys that we’ve been through, difficult trying times, painful times in our life.
And as I thought about this week in preparing this message, things in the past of my life, that I thought were a dark bellies and deep times of of heartache and trouble and trial and pain.
Then I thought about something that I read some time ago, that someone had written about the fact that the older you get, that the older you become in life and the longer you live, the more difficult your trials become.
I remember thinking about that, well, it looks like to me, the longer you live, and, uh, the more faith that you have, the simple doubt to be.
And so you know, it ought to be sometime out there where they don’t get quite as difficult.
And then I thought about my mom, and I watched her die a day at a time, and I thought that was the deepest darkest darkest I that I’d probably ever go in my life, because I watched her day by day just sort of dwindle away until finally the lord took her.
That was a very painful valley for me. Extremely painful.
I hurt, I wept, I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I heard on the inside, I heard on the outside.
And no matter what anyone said to me, only god could comfort me, and at times, that was very difficult.
And then I stepped into another valley, and I wanna tell you, my friend, There is no pain and no hurt to equal this valley.
There is no intensity of pain that I could ever describe that can describe the pain when you are torn away from something that you love very, very dearly, someone that you love, with all of your heart.
There is no way to describe the intensity of that pain.
And so when somebody talks about, I understand how you feel.
I’m not sure any of us can fully understand how anybody else feels in certain Valley experiences because they’re all different, and all of our circumstances are different.
But he says, yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, because there’s some things in this life that are far worse, than physical death.
And that is emotional pain that wrenches you and tears at you and almost destroys everything inside of you.
There is a pain more intense than I can describe.
I thought I knew what pain was like, but I’m sure that I didn’t.
And therefore, I would not say even now that I know what it’s like, because there must be some pain even greater than that.
I don’t know what it is. May god bear me of it, at least for a while.
And I think about, he says, the lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
Well, I have to ask myself the question, Lord, if you’re my shepherd, why would you lead me through this valley?
And yet I know that he’s an omniscient shepherd all wise, And he always does the right thing.
And what he said in Romans 8 28 is always true.
That our god is engineering our circumstances and directing our path in such a way it’ll bring honor and glory to his name upon 2 conditions, which I’ll come through later.
And so one thing I know for sure about the valley that because he said, thou art with me, this much I know, there is always a limitation on the depth of that valley.
And this is why I think what the old gentleman said when he said that our values oftentimes get deeper.
He didn’t put it in those words. That’s what he meant.
Is because when you and I are twenty one, we can we we can handle a sort of a shell about it.
When we are 41, we can go a little deeper.
When we’re 61, we can go a lot deeper.
And since I’m not 81 yet, I don’t know how deep it can get in the eighties, but I can imagine it could get extremely deep.
And dark and treacherous and lonely and hard and painful, and indescribable.
But this much I know, there is a limit.
And the same Jesus who said, I am the good shepherd, and I love the sheep.
The sheep know me, and I know them, and they follow me.
The same one who said, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
Neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand. The father and I are one.
This much I know that in the valley, no matter how treacherous and painful and difficult, nobody can take your hand out of the hand of the good shepherd.
Because you see in the valley, you’re not not holding on to him for dear life.
The good shepherd has taken us by the hand, and it doesn’t make any difference.
It doesn’t make any difference if I let go, Thank god. He never lets go.
It doesn’t make any difference how dark it is, how fearful it is, whatever alarm set off in your soul, how absolutely intense the pain and how much the tears, he never lets go.
He says, bow, art with me, thy rod, and thy staff, they company.
What a wonderful phrase in that song Without it, it wouldn’t be anything. With it, it’s everything.
And so when we think about the depths of it, it doesn’t make any difference how deep it is as long as I walk through it hand in hand with a good shepherd who is the lord Jesus Christ.
Why is that? Why do I not need need to be afraid for this reason?
If you’ll turn to John chapter 10, he said it better than I could.
John chapter 10 is the passage of scripture that is The good shepherd discourse about Christ.
Listen to what he says in this 10th chapter.
And this is why when he says, Yay, though I walk through the valley, the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Well, here’s the reason, because the good shepherd who is walking with us said this.
Verse 11, I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Verse 14, I am the good shepherd, and I know my own, and my own know me.
In verse 27, as we quoted, my sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.
And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
My father who’s given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of my father’s hand, the father and I want.
You know why you and I can walk through the valley without fear?
Because this I know, if Jesus Christ loved me enough and loves you enough to lay down his life at the cross 2000 years ago, That was the ultimate test of his love.
And if he laid down his life 2000 years ago, I don’t have to worry about him holding my hand all the way through the valley.
So he says, Jade, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil but thou art with me now.
The valley experiences he describes it here.
One thing is so evident is that the good shepherd is watching over us and caring for us all the way through that walk.
Sometimes that walk is probably very slow because it is treacherous.
Sometimes that walk may not be quite so slow.
It depends on what his purpose is and what he’s trying to achieve in our life, but he’s the one who’s overseeing it.
And he’s the one who has said, the key statement thou art with me, thy rod, and thy staff, they comfort me because the sheep seeing the rod, uh, to beat off the wild, uh, wild animals, the staff with a crook to reach out and pull sheep back when he’s getting too close to the edge.
All that symbolical of his caring.
Now the question comes, how do we oftentimes respond and what is our reaction?
When we get in the valley and people respond in different ways.
And so you must not ever judge somebody else’s response because, first of all, you don’t know the intensity of their pain, Second, you don’t know what god’s purpose is in their life.
And so oftentimes, we’re quick to judge someone else’s response to the valley and how they’re going through that valley and what’s happening to them.
You know, most everybody has advice for anybody who’s hurting about anything. And everybody’s got advice.
Well, I do this, and I do that. You ought to do this. You ought to do that?
And the thing you have to listen to is what god is saying and what does god want you to do.
And so here’s what happens. Here’s how people respond. Sometimes they respond in panic. Oh my god.
What shall I do? Now once you listen carefully, what I’m gonna say, because I’m gonna say one of the most important parts of this message in a moment.
Sometimes people respond in panic. Sometimes they’re overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty and discouragement and despair, and sometimes people come to the place of committing suicide.
We get lots of letters from people who are about to commit suicide and they listen to the program, and god speaks to their heart, changes their mind.
One of the reasons I don’t read very many of those because of the impact that it has upon people.
Oftentimes, they will say, now I wanna be sure you did say that I can be forgiven.
Well, you can be forgiven indeed, but my friend, you short circuit your life, you lose your reward and the tragedy of suicide, you do not want to experience the ultimate of that tragedy.
And there are many people who come to valley experiences.
And when they get to some point in the valley, and they look back, and they don’t see a way out.
And they look ahead, and they don’t see any way out, and they don’t have the wisdom to know.
If they’re a believer, that Jesus Christ is holding their hand all the way through that valley.
Think about the unbeliever who is in the valley experiences of life and no god. No shepherd.
What in this world do you do in the deepest, darkest valleys when there is divorce, when there is separation, when there’s a loss of a child, when there’s an accident and there’s sudden death, what happens when you suddenly find yourself in the valley and you don’t have a shepherd?
No one to hold your hand, no one to look to, no one to listen to your prayers, no one to call upon, no one you can be certain about, no one that you know who genuinely loves you, enough to have laid down his life already.
What do those people do? They run to every human thing possible, trying to get something to quieten that inner turmoil, silence the silence the shout of and the alarm of their pain.
Something that will so fog their mind and cloud their thinking, that they don’t have to think where they are and what they have to face.
That’s what they do. Listen to what he says. The lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
Listen, the same shepherd that leads us in the valleys The same shepherd is the one who leads us in the mountainsides, whether it’s still water in the creeks and the streams, Good grass, place the rest, refreshment time.
He’s the same one. But if you don’t have him and you don’t know him, what do you do?
There’s panic, there’s turmoil, there’s strife, there’s the threat of suicide, ending it all, despair, disillusionment, hopelessness, helplessness, and all kinds of responses, not a single one of which is the right one.
Now what I wanna share with you at this point is very, very important.
You hear me say to you oftentimes, if you’re gonna come to church and you’re gonna spend 35, 45, 50 minutes listening to a sermon, It is foolish to sit here and spend that much time listening to a sermon and walk away with nothing to care with you.
You’re not gonna come to this place and listen to 45 minutes of a message without something that will not enrich your soul, deepen your relationship to god, and challenge you.
That much I know. But now whether you carried away with you or not is something else.
And this is why I say, if a message is worth listening to, it’s worth writing down.
Those areas of the message that relate to your life or something that relates to someone else or something that you feel may you may need.
Let me give you an example. You know why people panic in the valley? Here’s the reason.
The reason people panic in the valley, and the reason they just lose it all is because they walk into these deep, dark, valley experiences of life with no basic biblical theology.
All of their Christian experience is hype hype. Praise in the lord, and it’s all in motion.
If I feel him, he’s there, if I don’t feel him, he’s not there.
And it’s praising the lord for this and praising the lord for that, and I’m praising god.
I believe in worshiping him and praising him, indeed, I do.
But my friend, if you’re a Christian life, is only a matter of emotion, and you listen to sermons, and you just walk away hoping you’ll remember something maybe.
The messages only make you feel good. They don’t challenge you.
They don’t enrich your mind, challenge your mind, and make you think.
And cause you to want to apply those truths to yourself.
And you take the time to write them down, and and to be able to apply them to your life and look for those experiences in life that will help you apply those principles, I can tell you.
When the valley experience comes and you don’t have a basic theology to live by, you’re gonna panic.
You you’re gonna look to the world to find something. Here’s what you’re gonna do.
More than likely, you’re gonna find unwise ungodly counsel And what that’s only going to do is deepen your valley and prolong your walk in that valley.
And that’s why it’s so very important you jot down the principles.
You write down those things that have meaning that these experiences are inevitable in every person’s life and why we get in the valleys.
And how we respond and how we should not respond, because we’re all gonna be there.
And so when he says, yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil why.
Because the psalmist knew god.
Now, you see, if I’m gonna respond right in the valleys, I need to know him.
If I don’t know god, I’m not gonna respond right.
If I know him, that means I understand something of his ways, how does god operate? Something of his principles.
Here are the things that guide us in our Christian wall.
Something of his promises and not just know them something, uh, as far as something of being able to quote.
But know them in experience. How is it that intrudes of god become a part of our very being, not listening to sermons, That becomes a part of my mind.
The truths and the principles and the ways of god become a part of my life When did they become a part of my life?
Here’s when they become a part of my life. When god allows me or thrust me into the valley.
Then I have to draw from what I know. Then I have to apply what I’ve heard.
Then I have to test what I believe.
Then I have to put that blowtorch to to the very basic things that have brought me thus far in my life.
And what happens? When you have a basic theology, when you have an understanding of god, when you believe his scriptures, when you know the promises, when you understand the principles, then in that valley.
I’m telling you, friend, everything you believe is going to get tested one way or the other.
And if your beliefs have never been tested, then more than likely, you don’t have much belief.
If you don’t have a basic belief system that can stand the test and stand the pressure and stand the pain and stand the turmoil, and stand the criticism and stand the prosecution, then my friend does something missing in your spiritual walk.
It is walking to the valley with a basic biblical theology, what I believe based upon what the word of god teaches, what the word of god says, the principles, the promises, that a that fill this book from one end to the other.
That’s why a light frothy relationship to god won’t work.
It may work alright as long as everything is going your way.
But when you get in the valley and the intensity of the pain is such that you cannot handle it, and the hopelessness and the helplessness is so absolutely overwhelming.
And the days are dark, and there seems to be absolutely nothing at the other end, and you can’t go back.
You’d better have a belief system that’s tested and tried.
That’s why is what god does.
That’s the reason he gives us shallow values when we know a little bit.
And deeper valleys when he’s taught us more.
And deeper valleys when he’s taught us more, but listen to me carefully.
If you’ve had the privilege, If you’ve had the privilege of knowing more back here, but you ignored it, and knowing more here, and you weren’t interested, and having the truths that I know that you’ve had and you paid a little heed to it, my friend, the ballads, they’re gonna get deeper and deeper.
Listen to me carefully. They’re going to get deeper and deeper no matter whether you take the time to apply the principles, or you don’t.
The difference is that those who have a biblical theologist stain, and those who don’t are not.
And that’s why it’s so very important that you and I understand this book, and we understand the word because no matter what you and I face, there are people in the word of god who’ve been there.
And you can start off with it’s Abraham or Joseph, or David, you can moses, they they’ve all had those long valley experiences.
Moses 40 years on the backside of the desert in the valley.
But they understood who god was. Now Moses had to learn the hard way.
And that’s why god kept him 40 years till he absolutely ripped everything out of him, that he had nothing here he was, a smelly shepherd.
And then god spoke to him again.
But he had all those past failures in his life to go back to, and god reminded him that he’s god, and Moses, you’re not.
I don’t know where you may be in the valley, but I can tell you this.
My friend, the wisest thing you can do is to get into this book, read it, pray over it, listen to the messages of god’s servants as long as they’re sticking with the book.
Listen to the messages of god’s servants, write down the truth, apply them to your heart, Look at how they’re being applied in other people’s lives.
Look at the consequences of disobedience.
Those are the things that establish you so that when you get into the valley, The lord Jesus Christ who holds your hand every step of the way will keep reminding you because you remember what he says?
He says he sent the Holy Spirit into all of that.
He may bring to our remembrance those things that he wants us to remember, that you and I can apply to our heart, those basic truths that anchor us and steady us, and keep us firm and solid and stable in the most difficult trying times of our Christian walk.
Well, there’s a third thing that I want you to notice here, about these value experiences.
First of all, we said they’re absolutely essential. They’re gonna be a part of our life. They’re inevitable.
Secondly, they’re painful. And thirdly, they are profitable. Valley experiences are profitable in our life.
And that doesn’t mean that because they’re profitable, there’s not gonna be any pain. Yes. There’ll be a pain.
And even even though they’re profitable, the pain and the degree of pain may be the same.
But they’re profitable for a couple of reasons.
First of all, there are times of discovery for us, discovery of what, We discover what god is like in the valley in a way that we will never discover on the mountain peak.
There are things about god. There are aspects of god.
There are ways of god that you and I will discover in the deepest, darkest, treacherous, most painful value experiences, we will never even get a glimpse of on the mountain peak.
That’s just the way life is.
And god reveals himself in the valley in a way that he does not reveal himself from the mountain peak.
So we’re gonna get a glimpse of god.
We’re gonna see him in ways that we will not see him otherwise.
Also, as I think about what we discover about god, we discover an intimacy.
And the sense of quietness, he says that he will lead us into places of rest.
Listen to me carefully. In the deepest, darkest, blackest moment of your valued experience, There can be the most overwhelming, indescribable sense of peace and rest and quietness and confidence that only hand in hand with the son of god could you ever experience?
The lord is my shepherd.
I shall not want for peace and quietness and tranquility, even when the darkest The deepest and the most painful walk is a part of your experience.
And so he says here, we’re we’re going to discover something.
Notice he says, he says, thou prepares the table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You’re anointing my head with oil.
He’s talking here about providing our needs in the darkest, deepest, most painful part of the valley experience.
And speaking of oil, for example, the shepherd would take oil and rub it on those skinned places where the sheep injured themselves.
And he’s simply saying that he’s going to be our comforter. He’s going to be our healer.
And the healing process. Listen carefully.
When you get in the valley, when you and I begin to respond correctly, the healing process begins even in the most intense pain.
The healing begins, even then god doesn’t wait to start the healing process, when we’re out on the mountain peak somewhere, that’s not the way god operates.
And so he says, he announces with oil. Our cup runs over.
He is providing every single thing that we need.
We discover something about ourselves, not only about god, there’s a million things about god you and I discovered, but we discover something about ourselves.
Now, listen, It’s real easy to sit in church or sit at home.
Everything’s going your way and say, I believe in god. Yes. Indeed. I do.
Bless it assurance Jesus as mine or what a foretaste of glory divine.
Hallelujah amazing grace, I believe all those songs. I believe the Bible from cover to cover. We’re fine.
Now let me ask you this.
When the pain hits and the hopelessness was overwhelming, then what do you believe?
You see, we discover things about ourselves in the deepest darkest, valleys, experiences.
We discover how much real courage we have. We discover the degree of our faith.
We discover the level of our faith.
We discover if our self image is based on him or in somebody else or what other people think.
We discover the true nature of our character. We discover whether we can really endure or not.
We discover what the real character is really all about.
When we go through those things, it caused us to be absolutely helpless, and we can do nothing about And all we can do is depend upon god, we discover things about ourselves.
And maybe some of those things we oftentimes boast about when the pain becomes intense enough, All of a sudden, there is no boasting.
And what we discover we discover what our real value system in life is all about.
We discover what the real priorities in life are about. And what happens, listen carefully, this is so important.
You see, here’s the reason we make such tremendous discoveries in the deepest darkest valleys of pain.
Here’s the reason. Because god has a way of increasing the pain level to the point that it is so painful.
Nothing else in life matters. Nothing matters. Absolutely nothing matters.
You see, god knows how to wrench from us everything we depend upon.
And that’s really what he’s up to in the valley experience. Ultimately, this is his pump purpose.
His ultimate purpose is to do what? To wrench from us emotionally, all physically or materially.
Every single solitary thing so that Jesus Christ has no competition as lord in our life.
There are no challenges to his rule and to his reign and his lordship in our life.
And so what does he do? He just strips us of everything that we cling to, that we lean upon.
And he has a very painful way of doing that. I’m not blaming all pain on god.
I’m simply saying that some things he allows and some things he initiates.
Whether he allows them or whether he initiates them, it doesn’t make any difference. God’s ultimate goal.
I think about people who’s who are extremely wealthy. And their whole life is wrapped up in money.
That’s what they talk about. That is the subject of their conversation. They begin their conversations.
That it’s the only thing that matters in life.
I tell you, my friend, the battle experience will come because god is not going to allow his children to cling to, depend upon rely upon, be wrapped up in, soaked up in, absolutely overwhelmed by, and allow things to become gods in their life.
So what does he do? He throws us into the valley experience, to wrench from us, tear from us, every single solitary thing that challenges his place of preeminence in our life.
And sometimes, those are things that we we wouldn’t even think of as being a challenge to god.
But you see, and this is difficult for us to understand. He wants us to lean on nothing but himself.
No one but himself. We are sons and daughters of god walking through valid experiences, learning to rely upon him and him only.
And so what does he do? He removes every single solitary thing, but himself.
And while that is painful and difficult for us, It ends up being glorifying to god because it forces us to himself, and we learn things about ourselves, We would not learn any other way.
And he brings us to a sense of dependence upon him, and that’s why when we come through that painful period.
And we realize that he is it and he is only it, and there is no other it but him, then what happens?
Even in the valley, tranquility, calmness, quietness of spirit.
So there there are discoveries, discoveries about god about ourselves, and discoveries about god’s purpose in our life, for example.
Some of us know what god’s purpose in our life is, and some people do not.
And it’s interesting to me how many young men who’ve come to our fellowship, uh, students at Georgia Tech, they came to school.
Their parents paid their way. They They were gonna be engineers, administrators, and you name it, all of these things.
And then something happens where the light bottom drops out, they get thrust into the valley.
And what happens, it’s in the valley when god begins to tear them loose from everything, whatever’s going on in their life.
It isn’t always a valley that they choose.
It isn’t a valley, for example, that god necessarily institutes or initiates, but it is a valley.
Sometimes it’s the divorce of their parents. Sometimes it is a financial collapse in their parents.
They can’t pay their way through anymore. Sometimes it’s difficult in the hardship that they’re going through.
Whatever it may be, and then they come to say, I don’t know what god’s doing in my life.
And, ultimately, through this deep, dark treacherous valley, You know, what their conclusion is?
God’s been calling me to preach, and I resisted it because I wanted to go out there and make a lot of money and told god I’d give a lot of money to missionaries.
That is the devil’s lie. How many people he’s told that to.
I’ll give a lot of money to mission to missionaries. The mission to work hard.
If you list, help me make 1,000,000 of dollars, I’ll give it all to you.
I’m here to tell you if all the people who’ve ever said that made their needs and gave it to god, we’d have money running over and trying to figure out what in the world to do with it, because that’s not true.
And god doesn’t fall for that lie at all.
But how many of those young men in the ministry today on the mission feel, why?
Because god sent him in the valley, and it was in the valley when he stripped everything and all hope away from everything that he got their attention.
And they could say, oh, is that what you’ve been calling me to do, god? Yes. Yes.
I do see that. And sometimes, in that valley experience, He simply affirms his purpose in your life.
And what happens is that god just enriches you and deepens you and strengthens you and makes what you’ve been doing even more effective.
But let me say one other thing, that it is not only a time of discovery, it is a time of preparation.
Now preparation isn’t easy. Think about this. He puts us in the valley. And remember this, god never listen.
He never allows us to go through the valley.
Or never initiates the valley experience unless he has a purpose in mind.
On the other side of that valley, god has a work has a purpose, has a plan.
That’s why the valley is never a destination.
Not in the valley, not walking around in it, but through the valley.
Yay, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I’ll feel no evil, not in it, but through it.
He has a purpose in mind. Now what is he doing in the valley?
He’s preparing us for the purpose, whatever it is. So what does he do?
He uses those tools we don’t like.
For example, sometimes it is humiliation, sometimes as he says, it is refinement, cleansing, purifying, renewing, in the valley experienced all the pain and all the hurt we feel, have an overwhelming, awesome, glorifying, divine purpose behind it all.
That’s why I’m gonna come to the last point in just a moment.
That’s why the next point is so very absolutely essential.
Because whatever his purpose is and whatever he is allowing to go on, What makes my value experience profitable or a great time of painful loss is how I respond.
Now, listen, that 2 ways to respond negatively.
We either get thrust in the valley, or we’re getting that because of our own circumstances.
We’re in the valley. How do I respond? Rebel against god.
God, why did you allow this in my life? Look for a way out.
Try to find some little offshoot of the path up some creek and some of the slight better thinking there may be a way out of the valley.
So we rebel. We wanna run away.
We wanna blame somebody else for being in the valley.
Blaming others is always a sign of our spiritual immaturity. It doesn’t make any difference what happens.
How we get there. Ultimately, god allows us to be in the valley. And so we complain.
We have pity parties. We moan and we groan, and we and we blame god. We blame other people.
And my friend, as long as you’re doing that, here’s what’s happening. You know what it’s like?
It’s like god just stops within the valley. He still got you by the hand.
But he just stops, or he slows down the pace. You know why?
Because he’s refining and purifying and cleansing and building character and changing and altering and doing what preparing us for what he has in mind.
What’s the proper response? I said it once before on purpose, and I wanna say it at the end of this message.
Here’s the proper response. It doesn’t make a difference what the nature of the valley is.
It doesn’t make a difference how short or how long it is.
It doesn’t make a difference how painful and treacherous it is.
Doesn’t make any of us how dark and hopeless and helpless it may be. Here’s always the right response.
Father What is your goal for my life in this experience?
Secondly, father, how do you want me to respond in this experience?
Father, all that I am, I lay down before you, with no reservations, no restrictions.
I am solely your property. And, fourthly, father, all that I have is yours.
I open my hands. You can take any and all of it. It is all yours.
And my friend, when you and I get in the valley, And that is our response, almighty god in all of his sovereign wisdom and love, will god as every step of the way through that valley.
And secondly, the pain may be almost unbearable.
But the glory on the other side will make that pain disappear.
Now, you say, well, and I saw this happen a week or so ago.
Sometimes people are going through pain, and they think when somebody describes it, what do they know about it?
But my friend, None of us know how anyone else hurts.
That’s not even the issue. The issue is what is the proper response? What is your goal?
How would you have me respond? Here am I, and here is all that I have.
God will honor that every single time.
And, father, we love you for this wonderful, passive scripture, so simple, but so descriptive, so comforting and so reassuring.
And I ask you, father, with all of my heart, for all the hurting people who are going to hear this message.
I pray the spirit of god would write etch indelible upon their heart that when you said, you would be with us You minute every step of the way.
And that you will work good out of all of our pain, all of our hurt, all of our suffering that you will accomplish your purpose, your way, and your will.
And so father, we just wanna rest in that today, and thank you that you’re the all sufficient savior, adequate, for every experience we face in life, and we thank you for it in Jesus name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button