16 March 2013 by Timothy Tai CM-
Everyone gets discouraged sometimes. It’s only natural, not to mention inevitable. There will be times in life when things don’t go our way; like when we don’t get the job or promotion that we wanted. Or when a relationship ends or when someone you trust breaks their promise to you and lets you down.
Normally we can count on the help of good friends and family to lift us up when we’re down in the dumps. But what if, at the lowest point in your life, you have absolutely nobody to turn to? No one to give you an encouraging smile or even lend you a sympathetic ear? What does one do then?
Well, 1 Samuel 30 tells us about a time in David’s life when he literally lost everything and the whole world was against him. It all happened while David and his men were living in a town called Ziklag which was in the land of the Philistines (They had gone there to escape the hand of King Saul who was seeking David’s life).
One day, David and his men returned to Ziklag only to make the horrifying discovery that their enemies the Amalekites had attacked their town and burnt it to the ground. To make matters worse, all their loved ones were nowhere to be found because the raiders “had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old.” Amongst those who had been captured were David’s beloved wives Ahinoam and Abigail.
Can you imagine the anguish and despair they must’ve felt? 1 Samuel 30:4 describes their reaction like this: “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.” Remember these aren’t Sensitive New-Age Guys that we’re talking about here. David and his men were tough fighting men who were used to hardship. But losing their homes and families all in one day was too much, even for them.
That wasn’t the end of David’s problems however.
1 Samuel 30:6a goes on to say “David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters”
Poor David. His home is destroyed. His wives are in the clutches of the enemy. And now his very own men blame the calamity on him and want to stone him to death. Talk about having a really bad day at the office. If I were in his shoes, I’d probably throw myself a pity party and feel sorry for myself. Maybe David felt like that too and honestly, would you fault him? But that’s not what he did. You can read David’s response in your own bible but here’s how the King James translation puts it:
“but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6b)
He didn’t try to drown his sorrows with wine or turn to food for comfort. He didn’t post a sad face as his Facebook status hoping that someone would like or comment on his status. He didn’t even try to find someone else to cheer him up or make him feel better. He encouraged himself and he did it in the best possible way; by encouraging himself in the Lord his God. You can probably guess what happened after that. David went on to lead his men in pursuit of the Amalekites and “David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.” (1 Samuel 30:18-19)
Although the bible doesn’t go into the specifics of how David encouraged himself in the Lord, the bible scholar and theologian John Gill provides the following exposition:
“David encouraged himself in the power and providence of God; in the promises of God, and his faithfulness in keeping them; in a view of his covenant relation to him; in remembrance of the grace, mercy and goodness of God, and his former experiences of it; hoping and believing that God would appear for him in some way or another, and work salvation for him.”
And that’s what we have to do as well whenever we’re disheartened or in despair. We need to encourage ourselves in the Lord by bringing all our troubles to Him and finding our strength in Him. Remember all the times that He has come through for us in the past and hold fast to His promises which have never and will never fail. For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Finally, worship Him simply because He is worthy and praise Him even if for no other reason than His word that says “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 11:24)
Note: Timothy grew up in Kuching and worked in KL before jumping off the corporate ladder in 2006. He moved to New York City where he served at an inner-city kids ministry for almost 6 years. He has since returned to KL and has just married his Irish fiancee Sarah.
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