By Milton Quintanilla, Crosswalk.com
In life, we are bombarded with trials and difficulties to no end. Sometimes it feels like the cycle never ends, or it gets worse. As Christians, we long for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we no longer have to deal with living in a sinful world. Believe me, I know. The struggle is real, and it is real every day. It is so easy to get discouraged when you are overwhelmed with the trials of life, as they are sometimes unpredictable, and you don’t know what tomorrow may bring.
But fret not! I want to provide some words of encouragement that will serve you not only in whatever circumstance you face, but in life as a whole. After all, we need encouragement every day since each day has its challenges, and what we must do daily is to encourage ourselves in the Lord. To elaborate, let’s look at 1 Samuel 30 1:1-6 as we will look at how the psalmist David encouraged himself in the Lord amid his plight.
David’s Difficult Situation
“Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way.”
“And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David's two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30 1:1-6)
Consider David’s situation in 1 Samuel 30; the Amalekites raided and burned Ziklag while the women and children were taken captive. To make matters worse, the people who had been with David “spoke of stoning him,” probably because they blame him for what happened. With that in mind, one can see that David was in a difficult situation, considering he had so much going on all at once! Now, while our problems are not the same as David, we, too, are overwhelmed with what life throws at us.
We are subject to hardships as long as we live in a fallen world. If you’re a Christian, just know that life is not without problems. If anything, it’s more difficult because our faith in God is challenged. Think about it. How many times have you questioned God in the midst of your plight? How many times have you prayed and prayed, and nothing seems to happen or if things seem to get worse? Or as if everyone in your life, such as your friends and family, turn their backs on you or even oppose you? Or how many times does it seem as if the Lord is a million miles away?
Yet, as the text says, David encouraged or strengthened himself in the Lord. Let that sink in, David could’ve let his circumstances discourage him or let the people stone him, or perhaps fight back against their threat. But he chose to turn to God instead, even in the midst of what he was facing. I remember reading that for the first time and how much it resonated with me because I know that it's so easy to get discouraged.
How Can We Encourage Ourselves in the Lord?
As Christians, it is so important that we encourage ourselves in the Lord in every circumstance because they are inevitable. It’s easy to hear a message like this and say amen, but the real test comes within the test itself. Will you encourage yourself in the Lord or try to take matters into your own hands? Will you say to God, “you are my portion and strength” amid these trials, or will you just complain and ask, “why me?” Believe me, I get it.
It’s easy to get discouraged or even angry at whatever you're facing, to the point where you even become cynical, and you end up constantly viewing life with a pessimistic lens. Just consider the past few years with the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of the world since then. Or think about what you’ve been dealing with in your own life on a day-to-day basis. I’m sure you’ve been dealing with a lot as much as I have, if not even more!
We’re not immune to pain, and even as believers, we must realize that. As a new Christian, I used to think that perhaps I wouldn’t struggle as much as before I got saved. But in fact, I realize that the situations I’ve faced have been difficult to the point where I’ve been frustrated at God. I’m sure you’ve felt that way yourself when you’re in a situation where nothing seems to change or when things get worse. I find it worse when you’re dealing with multiple situations at once as opposed to one thing because you become overwhelmed by all of them. The Christian life is not without its trials and tribulations. I don’t care what some preachers, such as those in the prosperity gospel, will tell you. As long as we live in this world, we will be faced with challenges —whether they are internal or external— until the day we die.
At the same time, realize that you can still encourage yourself in the Lord even in the midst of life’s problems. You don’t have to wait for things to clear up to be happy. And you don’t have to wait on people either, friends and family included, because it is usually in those dark times when you’re all alone. It is in such times those in your life are either unavailable or have walked away from you. Believe me, the road can be lonely sometimes!
In the Midst of Hardships, God Is with You
One of the most assuring promises found in Scripture is God telling His people, “I will never forsake you nor forsake you.” The first thing that Christians must realize is that in the midst of hardships, God is with you. In the midst of loneliness, God is with you. And yes, even in the midst of your frustrations with God, He is with you because, at the end of the day, no one can meet you the way God can meet you.
Why? Because He is your heavenly Father. He loves you, and He will never leave you nor forsake you. His mercies are new every morning, and He is always good! When we remind ourselves of who God is and what He has done for us (especially through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ), we cannot help but feel encouraged because God is with us. Even in the midst of our weakness, God’s grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9).
That is why David was able to find that encouragement in the midst of what he faced. He knew that God, who protected him from the Philistine giant Goliath and from the attacks by king Saul, is the same God who is with him despite what took place during the Amalekite raid. And friends, the same can apply to you as well. Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord so that you will be able to find the comfort you need no matter the circumstance!
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Eva Blanco
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.
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