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DONT WASTE YOUR VALLEY
Intro: One day a preacher who had just lost his family to a tragic fire, and had fallen into the depths of a deep and dark depression was walking down a city street. There, he came upon a construction crew that was erecting a new church. He stopped to watch them as they worked. As he watched, he observed a worker who was busy carving a triangle out of stone with a chisel and hammer. Stepping closer, he asked the stonecutter what he was carving.
The worker pointed to the steeple of the church and said, Do you see that small opening up there near the steeple? Well, I am carving this stone down here so that it will fit in up there.
The preacher was immediately stirred in his heart. He realized anew the faithfulness of God and came to understand that the valley he was in at that moment was God's way of carving him down here so that he would fit in up there.
We live in a world that is filled with people just like that preacher. There are people all around us who live their lives in depression, despair, despondency and defeat. There are some in that condition right now. Through the ages, many famous people have been plagued with difficulties of this sort.
Great individuals like George Washington, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Adams, Winston Churchhill and many of the hymn writers. Even David who is called A man after God's own heart, Acts 13:22, suffered from depression and defeat. This Psalm was born out of a time of depression, discouragement and defeat.
I would like for us to spend some time in these verses today. By doing so, perhaps we can find help for those times when we walk through our valleys. Perhaps we can find some help when we find ourselves in our times of overwhelming despair.
I want to preach from this passage today in an effort to encourage you. I know that many in our church and our community are going through some very difficult valleys right now. I want to encourage you by challenging you. I want to challenge you by saying: Dont Waste Your Valley.
I know that many people do not want to believe it, but God is in charge of all of life. The Bible says, The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way, Psa. 37:23. And, just as surely as God controls the direction of our lives; He also controls the disruptions of our lives, Rom. 8:28.
He controls the valleys. He determines their depth, their length and their duration. He sends the valley seasons into our lives to develop us and to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom. 8:29; Eph. 4:13. So, if God loves us, and He does; if He sends the valleys our way, and He does; we would be foolish to waste those valleys.
As we consider the divisions of this Psalm, lets take the time to reflect on what God is doing in us as we move through our valleys. Notice the characteristics of the valleys that are revealed in this Psalm. These characteristics teach us why we would be foolish to waste the valleys God sends our way. So, lets take a few minutes to look at this Psalm and the thought Dont Waste Your Valley.
I. THE PAIN IN THE VALLEY
A. v. 3 The Pain Of Darkness - No Help - (Ill. The context: The rebellion of Absalom, and the revolt of Ahithophel, Ill. Psa. 41:9.) Ill. There seems to be no end to the pain, and no light at the end of the tunnel. Many are in this very valley today!
B. v. 4 The Pain Of Depression - No Heart - (Ill. Overwhelmed – shrouded, carries the idea of being encased in darkness; Desolate – Stunned, stupefied carries the idea of total astonishment.) It's as if David cannot believe what has happened to him. It's as if he has no heart to go on. Many are walking in this valley today!
C. v. 7 The Pain Of Despair - No Hope - (Ill. Faileth = To be at the end!) David feels that he has reached the end of his rope and that if God doesn't lift the veil of his darkness, then he is no better off than those who go down into death! Many are walking in this dark valley right now.
D. The valleys of life are a shared experience. Obviously, there are many different types of valleys, and we dont all pass through the same places. There are valleys of sickness, death, financial turmoil, emotional distress, spiritual upheaval, and marital discord. There are valleys that touch the body, the soul, the mind and the family. There are valleys of every description and kind. The one thing we all share in common is that we all pass through valleys.
· Ecc. 2:2, For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
· John 16:33, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
· Job 14:1, Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
The valleys of life are going to come our way. That is a given. When they come, we must remember that they come to us from the hand of a loving Father, Job 2:3, 7, 10; 42:11. We must remember that they come because He is in the business of perfecting us. Therefore, we must be careful that we do not waste the valley. God wants to teach us while we are there; it is our duty to learn the lessons. (Ill. Paul – 2 Cor. 12:7-11)
If you are one of the many walking who are through the valley, there is hope for you today. You may feel that life has become unbearable. Let me encourage you today. With all the despair that marks this Psalm, there is also much reason for rejoicing here.
I. The Pain In The Valley
II. THE PRIZE IN THE VALLEY
A. v. 2 The Prize Of Repentance - Our Sins - (Ill. David's failures and his repentance of sin, Psa. 32; 51) Our valleys, while they are always the result of living in a sin cursed world, are not always caused by our sin! Yet, when we begin to seek God, our sin will always become an issue that must be dealt with, Ill. Psa. 66:18; 1 John 1:9.
Regardless of whether or not sin is responsible for our valley, we are still sinners in need of repentance. The valleys have a way of bringing to us our knees. The valleys have a way of causing us to reflect on our relationship with the Lord! Anything that brings us into a closer relationship with God is a prize!
B. v. 5 The Prize Of Remembrance - Our Sovereign - (Ill. David had much to remember! The stories of what God had done for Israel, and closer home, the great things God had done for him personally. Ill. The lion, the bear, the giant, Saul, etc!)
When walking through the your valley, remember what God has done. Review your life and read His Word. Remember how He saved your soul and changed your life. Remember how He has abundantly blessed you. It will refresh your heart and encourage you to carry on through the valley!
Ill. William Cowper, the great hymn writer often lived in the depths of depression and despair. He hired a carriage drive to take him to London Bridge. His plan was to throw himself into the river and end his life. However, when the driver picked him up and started for the bridge, they found themselves driving for hours in dense fog.
Frustrated, Cowper demanded that the driver stop and let him out to walk. When he stepped from the carriage, he was shocked to find that he was standing in front of his own door. It became apparent to him that the Lord still had a use for his life. He entered his home and penned the words to that famous song, God works in mysterious ways.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
When we are in the valley, we need a fresh encounter with the Lord!
C. v. 6 The Prize Of Reliance - Our Self - (Ill. thirsty land – Dry, parched, cracked ground that longs for the refreshing rains.) Ill. David knew he couldn't produce what he needed. Therefore, he looked to God.
Your valley has been designed especially to cause you to come to the end of yourself. When you get there, you will find that your valley has merely brought you to a place of utter dependence upon Almighty God. That is not a bad place to be! (Ill. Pro. 3:5-6; 2 Cor. 4:17)
D. As terrible as the valleys of life can be, they are also extremely valuable. It is in the valley that we learn the eternal truths about God that energize and strengthen our faith.
It was in the furnace of persecution that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego learned about the God Who controls the depth, extent and violence of the crisis. It was there that Daniel learned about the God Who overrules in the valley. It was there that Elijah, the poor widow; the disciples, Mary and Martha, and a countless host of others learned that the valley is a place of pain, and heartache. More than that, they all learned the priceless lesson that the valley is where you find the lily of the valleys, SOS 2:1. They learned that the valley is where the trees grow the tallest. They learned that the valley is where Gods grace is the strongest, and His lessons the most powerful. They learned what many of you have also learned. The valley is not to be wasted, it is to be searched for the treasures that are concealed there. Dont waste your valley.
I. The Pain In The Valley
II. The Prize In The Valley
III. THE PATH FROM THE VALLEY
A. v. 1, 6, 8a, 9a, 11-12 The Path Of Prayer - Waiting - Several times in these verses, David refers to his prayers. I am certain that there were times when David wanted to stop praying, but he didn't! (Ill. Prayer - We are commanded to pray - 1 Thes. 5:17; Rom.12:12; God has promised to hear our prayers and to answer us when we pray - Isa. 65:24; John 16:23; Jer. 33:3)
Our duty is to pray! Pray when God says, Yes! Pray when God says, No, I have a better way! Pray when God says, Wait! Pray! Prayer is more than a religious activity; it is a path out of the valley!
(Ill. George Washington at Valley Forge in 1776, he didn't give up. Often he could be seen kneeling in the snow beseeching the God of Heaven for His sovereign help and power. He kept praying! You do the same!)
B. v. 10b The Path Of Praise - Worshiping - In the midst of this sad Psalm, David sends up a word of praise. He reminds us that God is good! Ever person who walks through the valley would do well to adopt an attitude of praise! (Ill. Job - Job 1:20-22 - He worshiped and didn't accuse God!)
(Ill. Luther Bridgers who authored There Within My Heart A Melody. He penned this great song just after losing his entire family in a tragic house fire.
Ill. Horatio Spafford wrote It Is Well With My Soul after all four of his daughters died when the Ship they were on was struck by another ship and sank.)
If we cannot praise the Lord when we are in the valley; we have no business praising Him when we are on the mountain!
(Ill. What can I praise Him for - Luke 10:20)
(Ill. Why should I praise Him?
1.) He is worthy - Rev. 4:11
2.) It will help you - Neh. 8:10 Ill. Pro. 17:22)
C. v. 8b, 9b, 10a The Path Of Practice - Walking - Ill. David's desire is to do the will of God. Ill. This ought to be the goal of every saint! When we fail in walking with the Lord, we bring dishonor to Him and more discouragement to our own hearts. The best advice that can be given to those in the valley is to continue to walk consistently with Jesus day by day.
(Ill. 1936 German Women's Olympic 400 meters relay team! One of the runners dropped the baton. The French papers said they dropped the witness.)
Don't drop your witness! A consistent walk is a path out of the valley! You can beat the circumstances you face; you must never allow the circumstances to beat you!
Conc: A few years ago, Dr. John Piper was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Out of his battle with his disease, he wrote an article entitled Dont Waste Your Cancer. In that article, Dr. Piper mentions ten mistakes people make when they deal with cancer that cause them to miss what God is doing in their lives.
I want to share a few of the observations Dr. Piper made in his article. I will change the word cancer to valley, because the truth of the statements he makes are valid whether we are dealing with cancer or with the valleys of life.
1. You will waste your valley if you do not believe it was designed for you by God. It is not enough to say that God merely uses the disruptions of life. We must also acknowledge that He designs them just for us. If He doesnt stop it, then He has a purpose in it for us!
2. You will waste your valley if you think it is a curse and not a gift. It is through what some call a curse that the faithful saint experiences the tender mercies and gracious ministries of the Lord.
3. You will waste your valley if you spend too much time reading about your valley and not enough time reading about Christ. In the midst of our pain, we need to turn to the Word of God to look into His face for the help we need.
4. You will waste your valley if you allow it to drive you into solitude instead allowing it to deepen your relationships with others. It may be that God sent your valley to help someone else. When we cut ourselves off during our valley seasons, we deprive them of the opportunity to minister to us in the love of Christ. (Ill. Epaphroditus – Phil. 2:26.)
5. You will waste your valley if you grieve as those who have no hope. God uses our valleys to teach those around us that there is hopeless should not be a part of our lives, 1 Thes. 4:13. The saint of God must walk with their hope anchored in Jesus, even during the painful valleys of live.
6. You will waste your valley if you treat sin as casually as you did before. The valley should be a place of refinement where the saints of God make a definite move away from sin and its influence.
7. You will waste your valley if you fail to use it as a means of witnessing to the glory and truth of Jesus Christ. We are never anywhere by accident. God sent us where we are and we are there bring glory to Him. Let us use our time in the valley to call attention to Him, His love, His grace and His glory.
Are you wasting your valley, or are you making it count for Jesus Christ and for yourself? Do you need to come before the Lord and talk to Him about your valley? How long will you wander around in that valley before you come to the place where you acknowledge His hand in your pain? How long will you allow the flesh and the devil to keep you from benefiting from your time in your valley?
· If Jesus is calling you to come to Him for salvation, the time to come is now.
· If you need help in your valley, come to Jesus and let us know so we can help you pray.
· If the Lord is speaking to your heart, no matter what the need, please heed His voice and come to Him today.
· There is help in the valley and hope for the journey.