While he and his men were away, his town had been destroyed. All of the women and children—including David’s wives—were captured and carried away. His own men blamed him and wanted to stone him.
Ever feel like that? Like everything you care about has slipped through your fingers? Like you’ve tried—over and over again—to do the right thing (believe the right thing, pray the right thing…) but things keep getting worse instead of better? Like you really need the love and support of others but everyone you know is under the weight of their own losses?
In those times—in times of deep discouragement and even despair—how do we find encouragement and strength?
Looking for affirmation on social media or other pseudo communities is an illusion that never helps for long. Checking out through bad habits and vices may dull the pain but ultimately leaves you emptier. Fear, anger, resentment, self-pity, and a zillion other negative emotions may feel justified and might even provide a false sense of vindication—for a moment—but left unchecked they only lead to bitterness. And bitterness is always a poison and never an antidote.
There is no shortage of distractions that don’t help but only one thing that really does help:
“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 NKJV).
You would think that in such a dark time the Lord would have made finding encouragement just a bit easier. You would think He would have brought a slew of great encouragers (rather than discouragers) to David. You would think that maybe God Himself would have made an appearance or sent a miraculous sign. You would think that somehow, someway, God would have made getting through the whole ordeal just a bit warmer and fuzzier.
You would think. But that isn’t how it happened. It wasn’t warm. It wasn’t fuzzy. And it probably didn’t look particularly pretty. In fact, it was undoubtably messy and exceptionally painful. But David did the only thing he knew to do. Ultimately, it was grit, not glitz, that positioned David, once again, before the One who had consistently proven His grace to be sufficient.
David had known God’s faithfulness for many years at this point. He had seen God’s miraculous provision and protection many times. Even more, David knew God’s presence. But that certainly didn’t make it easy. His journey had plenty of twists and turns and David had been waiting years for the plans of God to unfold as promised. Yet his circumstances just got worse and worse…
But all the while God was still working in David. There are many reasons for the timing of God. Those reasons may or may not have a thing to do with us and our personal choices. But through it all—if we continue to let Him—God is always working in us.
I think that’s why David was a man after God’s own heart. He was teachable. He was far from perfect—there were some wins and some losses in David’s character development along the way—but he kept returning to the heart of God. Even in the midst of his greatest mistakes and losses … even when nothing made sense…even when he was weak and weary and without strength of his own…he knew where to run.
That’s why this day was such a big win. Maybe the biggest win of David’s whole life.
Because when everything and everyone was against him—when things looked completely opposite of everything that had been promised—when God was nowhere to be seen…
David strengthened himself in the Lord.
It is a choice. An eternal choice. An eternal choice of immeasurable consequence. It is the choice to believe, and keep on believing. Sometimes the choice is clear and easy but other times it’s not. It is possible to keep believing in God without really believing Him.
Our circumstances may change. Our feelings may change. Our sense and awareness of God’s nearness may change. But He never changes. When all other comforts and past means of encouragement have been stripped away or failed and we still choose to strengthen ourselves in Him, we make a bold declaration before both heaven and hell:
Our God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do.
So don’t wait a minute longer…strengthen yourself in the Lord today.