Buying a house can lead to unexpected and expensive problems. We may say, “I didn’t sign for these problems when I bought the house”.
Same for Christian: we begin enjoying the benefits of life in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1/ 2), but can have our faith shaken when problems/ difficulties/ illness come along. We may be tempted to say, “I didn’t sign up for these problems when I became a Christian”. This statement recently made to me.
What did we “sign up” to? Answer at the end!
The Christian life can seem like a series of mountain-top and valley experiences. Why?
Today, looking at three valleys to answer this basic question as to why we continue to experience problems and difficulties as a Christian.
Valley of Eshcol = TRIALS (Numbers 13, 14)
When buying a new house, we get a surveyor to assess the property for defects. Why? To make sure it is all that it seems, whether it was fully genuine (bona fide).
Same for Israel. Ten spies consider the Promised Land and believe they are unable to subdue the Land because of the giants in the Land. Two men, Caleb and Joshua believed that Israel could “swallow them up”. God says that Caleb had a different (wholehearted, bona fide, genuine) spirit and would bring him into the Promised Land.
Some believed that Israel were “grasshoppers” (insignificant, weak insects), whilst two saw themselves as “giant killers” (protection gone, God was with them). God TESTED Israel to see whether Fear or Faith was stronger.
For Israel, the testing demonstrated whether Fear or Faith was stronger in their lives. For us TESTING: Fidelity; Honesty; Integrity; Reliability; etc.
Are we 100% wholehearted, genuine? Interestingly, 9 carat gold is resilient, strong, but only 37.5% gold – looks good, but nowhere near what it appears to be. 24 carat gold is soft, pliable, and 100% genuine. God is looking for the pliable, 100% genuine spirit that pure gold provides.
The TESTS (trials) come so that Faith (or Fidelity, Honesty, Integrity, Reliability) of greater worth than gold, is genuine. (1 Peter 1:6, 7)
Valley of Achor = TROUBLE (Joshua 7)
Achan steals gold, silver and a robe that was meant to be devoted to God. He is found out after Israel suffers an embarrassing defeat. Achan’s sin was exposed. Joshua says, “Why have you brought trouble on Israel? The Lord will bring trouble on you”. Note corporate effect of sin.
God brings Trouble on us to expose, root out wrong actions/ attitudes, for benefit of individual and the church body.
When we bought new house, the garden needed TAMING. It looked good, but overgrown (Colossians 3:5, 7 – 9) we need to put to death (remove) all evil ways from us = idolatry. It is impossible to have God + sexual immorality, etc. The earthly nature needs rooting out. How? God exposes our sin and we work with Him by setting our minds on that which beautifies (Philippians 4:8). Trouble (Valley of Achor) leads to a door of hope (Hosea 2:15).
Valley of Baca = TEARS (Psalm 84)
Most difficult valley travelled by most Christians, many times.
Note the TEARS = place of springs (refreshment for everyone). This is a Valley of TRANSFORMATION = repurposing our lives.
God uses those travelled through Valley of Tears to comfort those with the comfort they have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3 – 5).
Trials = TEST our genuineness;
Troubles = TAME wrong attitudes and root out sin;
Tears = TRANSFORM us for repurpose.
Every valley situation can be described as the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (Psalm 23) as a “catch-all” description for the trials we face, but not the problems themselves. The “shadow of death” is a reminder of the death we have already died (Colossians 3:3)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal.2:20)
What have we signed up for as a Christian? The death of ourselves, in order that the Holy Spirit can grow and develop the fruit of the Spirit within us (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), so we can become more like Him. We must allow God to change us on the inside as He sees fit, so that the fruit of the Spirit will grow and develop in us.
When we accepted Christ, a new contract was made (2 Cor. 5:17). We are like a house = sold ourselves to Jesus when we invited Him into our lives, accepting His salvation. We are under new management = change is to be expected!
I sometimes walk past our old home, even though it no longer belongs to me. I notice the new owners making changes and would love to see and comment on what they have done so far. But of course, it is none of my business. Why? New owners! I have died to making decisions at our old house. It is no longer mine.
He sets about changing things that need changing. He does this by bringing us through trials, troubles & tears; He works in our lives to TEST OUR WHOLEHEARTEDNESS, TAME WRONG ATTITUDES & REMOVE IDOLATRY, and TRANSFORM US TO REPURPOSE US.
In order for Him to do this, we put to death our imaginations and plans, and walk with Him through the difficult times, knowing He is always there and that goodness and love (growth = word, and development = spirit) will follow me all the days of my life. (2 Corinthians 4:8 – 12)