We must plan for the valleys
by Terry Broome
In recent months we have become aware of a deadly virus that has spread throughout the nations of our planet, COVID-19 Strain of the Corona Virus.
It makes me aware of how extremely small Earth really is, and how connected the nations really are. A disease starting in one small place, suddenly has already taken tens of thousands of lives combined from everywhere, and potentially could rise sharply. 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 frightful dive and many companies have of necessity shut down to help slow and hopefully stop this spread. Fear has gripped the hearts of many of our citizens. 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 likely in one of three places this morning. You are either in a valley, or 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.
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;
Notice what Paul said about his valleys. Each difficulty was contrasted by an exclamation of God’s grace of help and blessing.
Troubled but not Distressed – To be crushed. Are we “Under pressure? Yes! — Crushed! No!”
Perplexed but not in Despair – To be hopeless with no sense of confidence or security. “Do I wonder which way to turn? Yes! — Am I without hope? No!”
Persecuted but not Forsaken – The Lord has promised to never leave us or forsake us!
Cast Down but not Destroyed – To perish. “Am I smitten and beaten down? Yes! — Will I perish in the hunt? No!”
If you will read the entire text of 2 Cor 4:8-12, what Paul is saying is that the trials and valleys of life are tough and they are hard. However, they are the perfect arena for us to demonstrate to the world that the God we serve is worthy of that service.
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.
Then 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) 10 We 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.
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489