Finding Strength in Discouragement (1 Samuel 30:6-8)

1 Samuel 30:6-8 – 6 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.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”

Every pastor that I have ever spoken to has had one of those Mondays. It is the kind of Monday where he sits in his office, and wonders whether or not he missed something in discerning his calling. Things did not go well. People were not receptive, not nice, not responsive. And the pastor finds himself feeling quite alone, quite defeated.

For those pastors who are feeling like that, and for those believers who would join them, I want to point to David’s example from 1 Samuel 30. If you think you’re having a bad day, I’m thinking David’s would compare. David has just been sent back from an opportunity to do some damage to the Philistine war effort, and as he and his men return to their village, they find it destroyed. Even worse, their families have been kidnapped by the raiders. And, with no concept of fairness, David’s men are blaming him for the fact that all this has happened. David has lost his home, his family, and the respect of his men.

Now, here is the good point. David does not let the sorrow overtake him. David does not sit in his office, play solitaire on the computer, and search the Internet for other groups who might better respond to his leadership. No, David finds strength in the Lord his God. Then, David asks God what to do next and takes action, action that will lead to the restoration of all he has lost.

The Bible does not here give us a five step process for how one takes strength in the Lord his God, nor do I think it should. Finding strength in God is not a process that I can define any better than I could tell you how best to breathe. If you are a true believer, you already know how to turn to God and cry out for help. While looking to the Psalms for examples can be helpful, the simple truth is, when you find yourself in a position like David’s, you have to stop looking at life from your own perspective. You have to cry out to God for help, strength, and encouragement. You have to acknowledge that the Lord is your only source of comfort and your only hope to recover. You have to seek God’s counsel through prayer and his word. You have to admit your own inability and cling to the Lord for strength. Then, you have to keep going, following God’s lead in the action that his word directs.

Brothers and sisters, I certainly understand how easy it is to be discouraged and to waste hours wishing circumstances were different. However, such wining and daydreaming do not honor God. It honors God when we turn to him, find strength in him, seek his counsel, and follow his lead. God showed us that David did this, and I think it fair to say that he wants us to follow David’s example. Find strength in the Lord your God.