GET ACQUAINTED: What is your greatest fear (phobia)? Why?
SCRIPTURE: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:1-4 )
GET IT: This weeks study is meant to help you recognize that valleys are an inevitable part of life. They are impartial and unpredictable and God’s presence when you walk through them is unquestionable.
OBSERVATION: Did you know that there’s actually a canyon in Israel called the Valley of the Shadow of Death? I’m sure that David was familiar with it since he probably had gone through it many times. Some the of the canyons in Israel remind me of the ones we have here in New Mexico. Some are very narrow at the bottom and can be 800’ tall. When you’re looking up on either side, the only time you can see the sun is actually at noon because the walls are so tall and the canon so narrow, the sun only shines when it’s right overhead. It’s in the shadows most of the day.
Valleys (canyons) serve as a metaphor for the low places in our lives; the difficult times. Valleys have three things in common: 1) Valleys are a part of life; 2) they happen to everyone; and 3) they are unpredictable. Valleys can be dark, scary and full of despair, but we can take heart knowing God is there with us.
Open with prayer. This is only a guide. Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
- We will go through different types of valleys in our lives. When we learn about how people in the Bible got through their valleys, we can have hope as we face ours. As we discussed on Sunday, one such valley was the Valley of Siddim where a great battle took place (see Genesis 14:11 ). This is the Valley of Failure, where you slip, fall and get stuck. It’s your personal tar pit, the place of public failure and embarrassment; a place where you look foolish. Share an example of such personal failure(s) and how God brought you through it and what you learned from it.
- In Numbers 13 , we read about the Valley of Eschol; the Valley of Fear. Moses sent scouts into the Promised Land to see if they could possess it. Ten of them said, “It can’t be done!” They were too afraid. What did they feel like (see Numbers 13:33 )? Describe a time when you were similarly afraid. How did that fear affect you, your family? How did you defeat it?
- Another example is the Valley of Elah, which is the Valley of Conflict. This is where we read about David facing the giant Goliath. Name a big challenge you faced in the past, or are facing currently? How can we pray for you and what else can we do to help you get through it?
- “5Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” In Psalm 84:5-7 we read about the Valley of Baca or the Valley of Grief and Barrenness. If you were traveling to Jerusalem, you had to go through this dry and barren desert on the way. What promises does Psalm 84:7 hold for a person going through the Valley of Grief and Barrenness?
- Share how Job 12:22 helps you to not feel alone when you’re in a valley. It will be helpful if you have group members read it in different translations/paraphrases (AMP, LB, NLT, NIV, ESV, NKJV).
- “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” [ESV] “I will transform the Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope!” [NLT] (Hosea 2:15 ) Share a testimony of how God transformed a valley from trouble into hope, either from personal experience or from the Bible.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17 ) When we are in a valley, we can remember that it is temporary – while for the Christ follower the reward is eternal. When people without Christ are in a valley, all they can see is its depth of despair. How can we become agents of hope, helping them see hope? What can we do this Christmas season to bring that kind of hope into someone’s life?
Thank God for never leaving you alone in the valleys. Pray for those you know whose lives are eclipsed by shadows to choose Christ as their shepherd and turn toward His light. Determine to be an agent of light in their lives and pray they will make the wise choice.