There are certain unpalatable situations of life that could bring one to a terrible state of despondency – discouragement and hopelessness. I am talking of situations where looking to the left nothing seems to be left, looking to the right nothing seems to be right, looking backward everything seems to be held back, and looking to the future, everything seems bleak. I mean times when all the types of prayers and fasting known and prayed seemed not to go beyond the ceiling over one’s head. Times when all we had worked and labored for and things we are holding unto come crashing at our feet. Times when people we had loved, cherished, helped and cared for, who are supposed to support and encourage us turned their backs at us and antagonize us. Times when there is no one to help wipe away our tears and no one to lean upon. Is there a way of victory out of such situations? Sure, there is a way out!
The Bible gives us a perfect example of someone who was in a situation similar to the above mentioned who came out victorious. The name was King David. According to the Scripture, a time came when Ziglag, a city of the Philistines where David, his family members and his band and their families (1Samuel 22:1-2) had taken refuge in his escape bid from King Saul’s who was after his life was invaded, burnt to the ground and his and others’ wives and children were taken to an unknown place by an invading enemy in their absence (1 Samuel 30:1-2). It was a very devastating and hopeless situation for David and his men that it was recorded that (David inclusive), “they lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep,” (1 Samuel 30:4).
To worsen the already terrible situation for David whose two wives and children were among those carried away, the people of his band that included his blood family members and friends whom he trusted and had been good to, those who should comfort and encourage him threatened to stone him because they saw him as the cause of all their problems (I Samuel 30: 6). What a terrible state of despondency to find oneself?
David was obviously very distressed (1 Samuel 30:6) and at a cross road at this point for many reasons.
(1) He was a fugitive in a strange land. King Saul was after his life because he did not want him to succeed him as king. David never desired to be a king but was chosen and anointed as one by the prophet of God.
(2) The Philistines he ran to for refuge are untrustworthy and did not like or trust him and had rejected him from fighting for them
(3) His place of abode was invaded and burnt to ashes and his wives and children were carried away.
(4) Those who had invaded and carried away his family members and properties were unknown; the place they were taken to and their welfare unknown.
(5) The people who he regarded as his own family and friends had betrayed him and were against him because they believed he was the cause of their problems.
(6) His life was been threatened by those with him and also by King Saul.
(7) He did not even know how long he had to wait and run before ascending the throne he was being persecuted for.
It is interesting to know that, amidst the terrible, disheartening and discouraging situations, David didn’t give in to despair or hopelessness. It was recorded in the Scripture that, “he encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30: 6). This implies he turned God-ward. He entrusted himself to the Lord his God. It implies he removed his focus and mind from all the unpalatable situations and happenings around him and fixed them on the Lord his God (Psalm 57:7. Ps 16:8). It implies, he took solace in his God whom he knows loves him and would never forsake him. He encouraged himself in his Lord and God, the great deliverer, the ever present help in the time of trouble who had delivered him in the past from out of all troubles. He took solace in his God who had taken him from following after sheep and anointed him as king and had given his words of helping him to ascend the throne. He must have encouraged himself in his God by thanking and praising him for his mercies and love that endures forever as he used to do before.
King David’s sojourn to the land of the Philistines was one he took without seeking the face of God as he usually does due to his fear of King Saul’s threat to his life. Truly, faith exits when fear moves in! Going to the camp of the enemy for refuge was something he shouldn’t have done in the first case because there was no reason to do so. God had not failed to protect or deliver him from troubles and death before now. Therefore, “encouraging himself in the Lord his God” was the best decision he made in the right direction. He was not disappointed because God strengthened him, helped him know where the invaders were, killed them all and also enabled him to recover all that was taken away by them and to also have spoils of war of the invaders (I Samuel 30: 7-20). God also helped him to ascend the throne the enemy did not want his to ascend (2 Samuel 2:4). King David’s Psalm 18 gives us an inside story of God’s help for him at that time.
Beloved, know that as long as one is alive and trying to fulfill destiny in this fallen world of sin under the devil, one is bound to come across disheartening, disappointing and discouraging situations. The times we are in now does not help matters either. So many unforeseen situations and terrible happenings in the society such joblessness, failures, hardship, disappointment, temptations and trials, illness, losses, delayed blessings among other life challenges. To worsen the already terrible situation is the simple fact humanity has lost it as prophesied in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. The love of many have waxed cold, relationships are broken, divorce is on the increase, deceit, desertion, cruelty and other man’s inhumanity to man are the order of the day. Facing one or more of these is capable of making one to be sad, sorrowful, dejected, discouraged, dismayed, full of anxiety, downcast, broken hearted and depressed.
However, such times are not times to be angry with people, isolate oneself and give up on life. Suicide is not an option! It is not a time to run from pillar to post or run to the camp of the enemy (kingdom of darkness) for refuge no matter how secured it might look. Crying one’s eyes out does no good too. Doing all these will be of no help, they will only compound one’s problems.
At such times of discouragement and distress, the best option is to go to God your maker, the help of the helpless for help as King David did, entrusting ones life to Him. King David was said to have encouraged himself in “the Lord his God” because there was an existing faith relationship between God and him. King David had an intimate personal faith relationship with God. Therefore he could encourage himself in Him in the time of his life’s storm.
The only means through which one can encourage oneself in God and be helped at all times is to enter an intimate personal faith relationship with God. This is not a matter of being religious or belonging to one church denomination or the other. It is a conscious deliberate decision willingly made to have God as one’s personal God and Father by the eternal covenant in which He gave Himself to us with all His attributes, with all that He is and has, to be our portion for ever. God has provided Jesus Christ as the eternal link for any one that willingly turns to God to have him as “my own God and Father.” (John 100: 12-13; 3:16). By this, one becomes a child of God having the Almighty God as one’s own God, portion and everything according to his covenant that, “I will be their God and they shall be my people (Ezek. 37:27). “God is our own God to trust, to love, to run to in every dark and troublesome nights. He is ours to commune with in every bright and sunny day, ours to be our guide in life. He is our help in death and our glory in immortality. He is our own God by providing us His wisdom to guide our path, His power to sustain our steps, His love to comfort our lives, His every attribute to enrich us with more than royal wealth.” Charles Spurgeon.
Having Jesus Christ as ones personal Lord and Savior, trusting and hoping in Him alone helps one to find unfailing refuge in God’s righteousness, His faithfulness, his love and his promises in times of trouble (Psalm 9:10; 46:1-3). Knowing that we have the God of the whole universe is our Emmanuel keeps the heart hopeful and from being afraid.
At such times too we must give ourselves to prayers seeking his face to know what we should do as King David did (1 Samuel 30:8). Surely, God answers prayers (Psalm 18:6; 57:2).
Thanksgiving and praising God as characterized by King David in times of troubles as could be seen in his Psalms is something we should imbibe. Thanking and praising God at all times particularly during life’s challenges strengthens the heart, keeps the heart at peace and rejoicing. Apart from this, giving thanks and praising God confuses and defeats the enemies. (Psalm 9:1-3; 27:1-3). DON’T GIVE IN TO DISCOURAGEMENT AND DESPONDENCY.
“NAY, IN ALL THESE THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVES US.” (Romans 8:37)
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.