Faith – We must plan for the valleys

2 Cor. 4:8-18
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that we’ve entered a period of world history that is marked by uncertainties; a lack of confidence; some sense of hopelessness, even despair.  The stock market took a dive this week and immediately fear has gripped the hearts of many of our citizens. We must be cautious because fear can drive us to make radical decisions.  Our purpose today is to look to God for help and hope;  To look to His Word for encouragement and direction.  Someone wisely said, “I don’t know what tomorrow might hold, but I know Who holds tomorrow.”
In 2 Cor. 4:8-18, the Apostle Paul gives us some much needed insight into the problems we face and how we should handle them. After all, either we will handle our burdens, or they will surely handle us!  It may be that some of you have already entered a valley of despair and helplessness.  In fact, God’s children are in one of three places this morning. You are either in a valley, coming out of a valley, or standing in the precipice looking down into a valley and wondering if you must walk through it.  Since this is true, we need to be prepared when the valley days come.  I believe these verses will help us to do just that.  We must plan for the valleys for they will come.

Job 14:1-2 (KJV) ¹Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. ²He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
John 16:33 (KJV) ³³These 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.
The context of 2 Cor 4:8-12 finds Paul  speaking primarily of the persecution of the believer. He suffered greatly for the Lord’s sake. These verses  speak to those who are suffering for their faith and to those who are bearing burdens that represent the natural problems and valleys of life.  First, he tells us in verses 8-9 –  They Are Painful:
 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV) ⁸We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; ⁹Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
In these verses, Paul uses some pretty descriptive language. He describes his valleys as times of pain. Note the language he uses:  Troubled - pressed, squeezed, under pressure;  Every side - in every way, place and occasion;  Perplexed - to be at a loss, to wonder which way to go;  Persecuted -to be hunted like an animal;  Cast down - to be smitten and beaten down.
It’s apparent that the Apostle is enduring circumstances that could be described as painful. This happens in your life and mine as well.  In fact, these words could very accurately describe the way we feel right now. When we go into the valley, it’s no fun and often it’s quite painful. One point we must remember is that we are not the first, neither will we be the last, that will face painful times in life. We must view them with purpose!  2 Corinthians 4:10-11 (NIV) ¹⁰We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  ¹¹ For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,  so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

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