Living @ Ease in an Uneasy World Part 3
Finding Peace When Your Whole World is in Uproar
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
April 6, 2003

 

This is the third and final week in our series, Living @ Ease in an Uneasy World. Two weeks ago we talked about what the Bible says about war. Last week we discussed dealing with fear in an age of terrorism. If you missed either of those, you can find the text of the messages on our website.

Today, we’re going to take a look at finding peace when your whole world seems to be in uproar.

We all experience times in our lives when everything seems to be going wrong. Days when it seems like one thing after another piles up on top of us and we feel crushed beneath the weight of it all.

In his book, Come Before Winter, Chuck Swindoll tells the story of one man in particular who must have felt this way. It is supposedly a true story about a construction worker who had a particularly bad day at work. And while filling out a company accident report form he used these words:

When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks around the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple barrels full of bricks. When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. Then I went to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was much heavier than I was – and before I knew what was happening the barrel started coming down, jerking me up. I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow on my shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground hard, it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out. I was now heavier than the barrel. So I started down again at high speed. Halfway down I met the barrel coming up fast and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises. At this point I must have lost my presence of mind, because I let go of my grip on the line. The barrel came down fast – giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital. I respectfully request sick leave.

Hopefully none of us has ever had a day quite like that, but we all endure suffering of one kind or another in our lives. We can be having a perfectly happy day, when a phone call, letter, or email can send us tumbling. And it’s unavoidable that those days will come.

We all experience heartache, despair, disappointment, frustration, and loss.

What are some things that can cause your world to be thrown into turmoil?

PARTICIPATION

(The death of a parent, being laid-off at work, having a conflict with a friend, finding out about a health problem, having financial strain, experiencing unresolved issues in your family life, having an accident on the way to the grocery store, discovering structural problems with your house…)

Yes, all of these things and more can leave you with feelings of hopelessness, doubt and confusion. And you may feel like your life is in total upheaval.

The Bible often refers to these times are valleys. Joshua talks about the Valley of Calamity. Psalm 83 talks about the Valley of Weeping. Psalm 23 talks about the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Hosea talks about the Valley of trouble, or the Valley of Deep Darkness.

So with that in mind, let me give you Five Facts about Valleys:

 

Five Facts about Valleys:

 

1. Valleys are Inevitable

They’re going to come, so you might as well count on them. After every mountaintop there is a valley. You’re either going into one, coming out of one, or going through one. And Jesus was quite realistic about this. He said…

John 16:33 (NLT)
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

“…you will have many trials and sorrows.” It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. You are going to experience valleys. They’re a normal part of life, so don’t be surprised by them.

Tennessee Williams, the American playwright whose successes include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a hot Tin Roof put it this way…

“Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you’ll know you’re dead.”
~ Tennessee Williams (1914-83)

Valleys are an inevitable part of life.

 

2. Valleys are Unpredictable

You can’t plan them, time them, or schedule them. And they usually come at the worst possible time… when you don’t have time, when you’re unprepared, when you don’t have the resources to deal with them.

Have you ever had a flat tire at a good time? I don’t think there is such a thing. They just happen, and usually at a most inconvenient time. Valleys are like that. They just happen.

Jeremiah 4:20 (NLT)
Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation. Suddenly, every tent is destroyed; in a moment, every shelter is crushed.

There’s no rhyme or reason. A valley can come upon you suddenly without any warning.

 

3. Valleys are Impartial

It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been or how bad you’ve been… the valleys are going to come either way. The Bible is quite clear that good things can happen to bad people and bad things can happen to good people. We talked about that here a couple months ago. Valleys are impartial.

Matthew 5:45 (NLT)
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too.

No one is exempt from valleys. You may have a season of your life when you don’t experience one, but don’t worry. It’s coming.

Boy, aren’t you glad you came this morning? Seem pretty bleak, doesn’t it? We’re all going to be hit with valleys, no matter what. Well, here’s a bit of good news…

 

4. Valleys are Temporary

In Psalm 23, David talks about walking through the dark valley of death.

Psalm 23:4 (NLT)
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death…

Keyword: through. Anything you walk through has a beginning and end. The only way you stay in the valley is if your sit down and wallow in it.

Some valleys last longer than others, but they are all temporary. And eventually all the valleys will be gone.

1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.

This “wonderful joy ahead” that Peter is talking about is Heaven. There are no problems in Heaven, no valleys, no dark days. And all of us who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus have that to look forward to.

 

5. Valleys are Purposeful

We just looked at 1 Peter 1:6. Let’s take another look and add verse 7…

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.
These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.


The valleys you experience serve a purpose. God has a reason for taking you through them. He doesn’t cause them, because God is a good God and cannot cause evil. But He does allow them and can take every trial and every valley you experience and use them to develop faith and character in you.

Think about it. The goal of the Christian is to become more like Jesus. Was Jesus exempted from suffering? No. Did Jesus go through times of loneliness? You bet. Was Jesus ever tempted or discouraged? Yes. Did Jesus ever experience loss? Sure. Was Jesus ever misunderstood, persecuted, and criticized unjustly? Absolutely. And by going through the same things He went through we can become more and more like Him. We may not enjoy the process, but the end result is sure worth it.

 

Okay. So valleys are going to happen. There no way around that. And yes, they do serve a purpose. But that doesn’t negate the fact that when we’re in the middle of a valley we experience disappointment and discouragement, suffering and sorrow, frustration and failure. In the middle of all of this, how can we find peace?

Let me share with you five keys for finding peace in the valleys.

 

Finding Peace in the Valleys:

 

A. Spend time with God & His Word

Something I have discovered in life is that the times when I am the most uneasy, unsure, and unsettled are the times when I have neglected the Word of God… When it has been a while since I spent any quality time reading the Bible and praying. But when I am consistently spending time with God, I find that my perspective changes, I’m more focused, and things just don’t seem as bad.

Colossians 3:15-16 (NLT)
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other.


The peace of Christ and the Word of Christ are brought together in these verses. Do you see the connection between the two? Spend time with God and His Word.

 

B. Choose your Focus

You can take two different people and put them in the exact same circumstance – a tragedy, a crisis, or valley of some kind – and discover that one is completely blown away while the other is strengthened by it. The difference is that one is focusing on the situation while the other is focusing on the solution. One is focused on the problem, the other is focused on the power of God to get them through it.

Colossians 1:11 (NLT)
We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need.

There may be chaos all around you, but God is bigger than any storm.
~ Neil Anderson, The Peace of God, Daily Devotional October 18, 2000

There’s a common saying that goes like this… read it with me:

“Nothing will happen to me today that God and I cannot resolve.”
~ Common Saying

Keep your focus on God, not on the valley.

 

C. Keep a positive attitude

Your attitude does not depend on your circumstances. You can choose to be negative or you can choose to be positive. You can choose to curse your valley or you can choose to grow through it.

Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Do you know where the apostle Paul was when he wrote those words? He was in a Roman prison. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”

Your attitude determines your altitude.
~ John Maxwell

And if you hope to rise above your circumstances, you need to keep a positive attitude. Don’t allow circumstances to drag you down.

 

D. Allow Your Difficulties to Build Character

Your physical muscles are developed through the hard work of pushing or pulling against weight or gravity. In the same way, your spiritual muscles are developed in the hard work of living through less than ideal circumstances.

Catch this:

Romans 5:3-4
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.

Our valleys can be good for us. They help us develop character.

All sunshine and no rain makes a desert.
~ Arab Proverb

As much as we hate the valleys we encounter, the truth is we need them. So when you’re going through a tough time, don’t through yourself a pity party. Instead, remember that it is an opportunity for you to grow and develop as a person and as a Christian.

 

E. Remember that you are not alone

  • God is with you

Psalm 23 is one of the best known passages in the Bible. And I think this is incredible. Look at this:

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)
The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name.

Everything’s going well, and David writes “He lets me rest… He leads me… He renews my strength… He guides me….”

But look at what happens next:

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT)
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

As soon as David started talking about valleys, all the pronouns changed from third person to second person. The “He”s have become “You”s. “His” has become “Your”. Why? Because it’s in the valleys that we come face to face with God. He doesn’t sit back and watch us go through the valleys; He’s right there with us. We are never as intimate with God as when we’re going through a valley. God is with you.

 

  • We are with you

Look around. We are the church. We’re all in this together. We love each other and support each other. We care for each other and encourage each other. Not only do we need to be there for each other, we want to be there for each other. That’s who we are. We’re not a group of strangers getting together on Sundays. We’re a family. We’re the family of God, and we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. We share love with those who need it. And if we need it ourselves, we accept it.

Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Share each other's troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

 

Close your eyes. I want to give you the opportunity to respond. How many of you are going through a time right now that you would call a valley? Just from talking with some of you personally I expect it’s a fair number of us. If that’s where you’re at and you would like to be remembered in prayer, slip up your hand. I’m not going to mention you by name, but I want to see who you are.

Secondly, we’ve been talking about experiencing the peace that God offers. But the key is that you need to be in a relationship with God first. So if you don’t know Him but would like to know Him, slip up your hand.
 

 

 

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