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Ministry of Jesus (8 of 8)

Mike Connell

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So you can’t stop difficult things happening to you. You can’t stop life happening to you. But when painful experiences happen, you can choose what you do with it. You can become bitter; or you can become better. You can become sour and hurt and resentful; or you can grow in the grace of God. You can be angry and blaming others; or you can reach out to God to help you. You can become twisted and distorted by this experience; or you become sweeter, and more gracious.

You choose - it’s your choice. We have no choice, sometimes, over what other people do to us; but we can choose how we respond. So, the Bible says: “blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord, who passes through the valley, makes it into a well, and God begins to pour rains of blessing on him, and that person goes from strength to strength”.

That’s from one level of strength to another level of strength. You want to be strong? Handle adversity well. You want to become a bigger person? Handle your difficult situations well. So we see, God’s plan is never to leave us in a valley of sorrow. In fact, the Bible tells us in Isaiah 53 – Jesus carried our grief and sorrows, so we don’t have to carry them.

I want to ask two questions. First one: why did people get stuck in a valley? Why do they get stuck? The second question: how do you get out? How do you make your valley into a well? So you come out stronger, not weaker and bitter.

So firstly, why do people get stuck in the valley? Over the years I’ve met many Christians, and many non-Christians, and their lives are full of grief; they’re in pain. There is a part of their heart where there’s a valley of sorrow. So I’ve tried to find out why people stay there, when they don’t really want to be there. Every now and then, someone will say something or do something, and it triggers off their anger, and triggers off their reaction.

So here are some of the reasons I’ve discovered why people remain in a valley; why they carry sorrows in their heart; why they have a place in their heart where they’re stuck. There are several reasons - let me just give you a few of the reasons.

The first one is when a person denies or minimises that they’ve been hurt. If you get hurt by someone, or some situation; and you deny that you’ve been hurt, or you sweep it away and say – “It’s nothing really”; then you are embracing a lie. The pain is buried, and you’ve covered it with a lie.

I have found many, many women suffer - women who’ve had abortions for example. Deep in their heart of hearts, they know what happened; but they’ve covered it and minimised it, and denied what it really was. So there’s a part of their heart where they’re sad. Until we face the truth about our situation, we can’t get free. I’ll show you the steps out in a moment. So when people deny or minimise there’s a problem... I’ve found often in Asia, people won’t talk about the things that hurt them. They’ll bury them in the heart, and hold them down in the heart; trying to get on with life, and not face the thing and deal with it.

Another way that people stay in the valley is through unforgiveness. Unforgiveness means: you’ve hurt me, and you owe me, and I refuse to release the debt. When we hold unforgiveness in our heart, the Bible says we open the door to tormenting evil spirits; and they torment you. They keep reminding you: it’s not fair. They keep stirring up hurt, stirring up injustice. They keep stirring the fire inside you; and each new experience adds to the previous one. I find some people are angry, and they’re just about angry at everything. But really what’s happened is: they were hurt, and got angry, and they never forgave.