Living @ Ease in an Uneasy World Part 3
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
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
What are some things that can cause your world to be thrown into
(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
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:
1. Valleys are
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
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
3. Valleys are
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
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
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
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
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
5. Valleys are
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
that you are not alone
Psalm 23 is one of the
best known passages in the Bible. And I think this is incredible. Look
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
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.
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