Do you know what the worst kind of pain is? Wasted pain.
JUNE 7, 2022
Matt Heard: Do you know what the worst kind of pain is? Wasted pain. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We’re here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done. God will never be angry at you, again. Matt Heard is a speaker, teacher, writer, pastor, coach, and the main guy behind ThriveFullyAlive.com.
Matt Heard: Thank you Matthew. Well this week, we are talking about what it looks like to engage with our story on a daily basis. Realizing that our story is part of his, a greater story. And for our guide, we’re unpacking Psalm 84, verse 5 and 6 and 7. And we’re looking at four keys to engaging with our story. And we just looked at verse five, talking about this whole notion of seizing the plot. Let me read verse five again.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
For me to engage with my story, I need to set my heart on the fact that this life is a pilgrimage and it is going somewhere. There’s a bigger picture. And that picture, that context is the advance of God’s glory to once again, cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. It’s kind of like the box top of a jigsaw puzzle. I’ve got each day that’s an individual piece, but when I have the box top of God’s glory and the agenda of his glory, then all of a sudden, each piece can start fitting in. So, that’s the first key. Today we’re going to look at the second key as we look at the first part of verse 6, the first part of verse 6 says.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca.
Now, that’s a fascinating statement. What’s it mean? It brings up the second key that I’m going to describe it in this way. Steward the pain. How do I engage with my store on a daily basis? First, I’ve got to seize the plot, but secondly, I’ve got a steward the pain. Sting’s one of my favorite artists and he is a brilliant lyricist. Years ago, he wrote a song called The Book of My Life. And, I was going to sing it for you guys. But the guys in the studio here said, please don’t. So, I’ll avoid that, but I want you to hear the lyrics. This is a few of them, at least.
It’s the book of my days. It’s the book of my life. And it’s cut like a fruit on the blade of a knife. And it’s all there to see as the section reveals. There’s some sorrow in every life. Though the pages are numbered, I can’t see where they lead. For the end is a mystery, no one can read. In the book of my life.
Now, that mystery part we’ll get to a little bit later in the week, but there’s that phrase. There’s some sorrow, there’s some sorrow in every life. All of us know that sorrow, but what are we doing with it? Go back to the text.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca.
That’s Psalm 84, the first part of verse 6. There are a couple of words, I want you to pay attention to. The first word is the word through, the second is the word Baca. They pass through the Valley of Baca. Literally the Valley of Baca means the valley of weeping, the valley of tears, the valley of difficulty. I mentioned my buddy Frodo, yesterday. And I’m going to bring it up again. At the end of The Return of the King, the third book in the trilogy, he’s pondering his journey and he says.
How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand there’s no going back. There’s some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.
Man that’s beautiful. And it’s honest. And sometimes, the older you get, the more you realize, sometimes just the sheer passage of time is not going to mend things. Our healing has to come from a deeper place. So, that’s one word, the journey through the Valley of Baca. Now look at the word through, notice where they’re going.
We set our hearts on pilgrimage as they pass through the Valley of Baca.
Passing through is very different than going around. You know, Psalm 23 verse 4. Even though I walk around the valley of the shadow of death. No. Where do we walk? Through it. Even though I’ll walk through the darkest valley. In John 16:33, Jesus says.
I’ve told you these things so that in me you may have peace. And in this world you will have trouble.
You know what that means in the Greek, it means in this world, you will have trouble, but he says.
Take heart; I’ve overcome the world.
I love his honesty. He says, listen, as you’re engaging with your story, I want you to understand something, you’re going to have Valleys of Baca that you have to grapple with, and I’m going to take you through them, I’ll be enough. You can take heart. A lot of times we take the notion that the gospel is a get out of jail free card. And if I do the right things and are rub the little genie bottle and all my devotional stuff and all my Christiany stuff, my religious stuff, all my problems will go away. And that, Jesus is debunking that right there. He’s saying you will have trouble, but I want you to take heart. I’ve overcome the world. David White is a poet from Britain that moved over to America and he came into corporate America, had a rude awakening, but thankfully he journaled out loud about it. He wrote a book called The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America. He says this.
Preservation of the soul means giving up our wish and the scheduled workplace for immunity from the unscheduled meeting with sorrow and hardship.
A little bit later, he says.
We experience a form of internal sticker shock, that the price of our vitality is the sum of all our fears, that the price of our passion, commitment involves the shattering of deep, personal illusions of immunity and safety.
You hear what he’s saying? He’s saying there, all of us want to grow. All of us want fulfillment. All of us want to mature, but we experience sticker shock, when we start realizing the cost of our maturity is going to be engaging with our pain. You know, pain, we don’t like. You know what the worst kind of pain is though? Wasted pain, pain that we don’t steward. And that’s why engaging with my story on a daily basis, it involves not only embracing that plot overall, but it involves me stewarding my pain on a daily basis. Psalm 66 verse 10 says.
For you, O God, you tested us; you refined us like silver.
I Peter says in chapter one, verse six, he says.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials, but these have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes, even though refined by fire may be proved genuine and may result in praise and glory and honor, when Jesus Christ is revealed.
He says, Hey, don’t, don’t turn away from the price tag of your maturity, the price tag of you being able to taste significance on a daily basis, the price tag of truly experiencing the hope of the gospel and the price tag of that is leaning into your difficulties, not trying to run around them. It doesn’t mean we go after difficulty. Each day has enough trouble of its own. I don’t have to make any trouble up. It comes, but when it comes, I can know that, if I submit before God, all of a sudden I’ll start stewarding that pain in a way that makes me a different person and that’s for the better. Romans 8:28 is a little bit too familiar to most of us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Who’ve been called according to his purpose.
It doesn’t say all things are good, but says in all things, he brings all things together. Have you ever had a chocolate cake. You know, I don’t like all the individual ingredients of a chocolate cake. I mean, I’m not going to take any shortening, Crisco, I used to call it long ago. I’m not going to just take a spoonful of that or cooking chocolate. Those things don’t taste that great, but you put them all together and something powerful happens. And in the midst of our difficulties, God does something. And for me to engage with the fullness of my story, We mean me not running from my pain, but stewarding it. Psalm 30:11, the Psalmist says.
You turned my whaling into dancing.
You hear that? It turns my pain into something that I can dance to, a music that I can dance to. Psalm 51 verse 6.
As surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach me wisdom in the in most places.
Remember, how does he teach us that, it’s through difficulty. He says.
Cleanse me with hyssop and I’ll be clean. Wash me and I’ll be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness.
And then here’s the clincher.
Let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Are you kidding me? Let my crushed bones rejoice? Let my whaling be turned into dancing, but that’s what the gospel allows. The gospel doesn’t just forgive us of our sins. It’s not a matter of just redemption only. It’s a matter of restoration. It’s a matter of taking those, that brokenness and transforming it into something that’s beautiful. And I can respond to my brokenness without stewarding it, that leads to woundedness. Or I can respond to my brokenness with appliable heart and it can lead to something that’s abundant and beautiful, even if it’s a dance with a limp, I got an e-mail last week from a dear friend of mine. And I performed his wedding ceremony 20 years ago. And he and his bride both had, had very, very difficult passages to go through in their journey. It had involved the death of a spouse for one, and so their families were gathered and I said, you know what guys? Here’s my commission. You got broken bones, but you are now qualified to dance in a way that you’ve never danced before, it’ll be a dance with a limp, but go dance with those broken bones. And my friend wrote to me and he says, thank you across the years and miles. We’re still a bunch of broken bones and we’re still doing well, commence the dance. So, I hope today you can do well with the dance, even though it’s with broken bones. And as a result, I hope you thrive today.
Thanks Matt. That was our friend Matt Heard teaching us again about how our individual stories fit into God’s larger story, such an encouraging idea. Again, our text this week is Psalm 84:5-7. We’ll continue with this pilgrimage tomorrow. Sure hope you’ll join us then. Well, as Matt mentioned earlier, our pain can be used in a good way. And along those same lines, I’d like you to think about addiction. Addiction as a gift. That just sounds absolutely bonkers, right? I know. What gift can we possibly find in that kind of failure, but listen, when our helpless drives us to turn to God and admit our need. We experience the greatest gift of all, his presence, his kindness, his forgiveness, and his peace. My good buddy, Erik Guzman writes about this in a special mini-book called The Gift of Addiction: how God Redeems Our Pain. Get your free copy of that right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also request the mini-book by e-mailing [email protected] If you’re mailing us, send your request to
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