All of us have our crisis days when everything seems to fall apart, days when it looks as if we have come to the end of the road and that God has turned against us. In 1 Samuel 30 we see David experiencing such a crisis. He had just returned from battle to discover that the enemy had attacked his camp, taken all his goods, and worse yet, kidnapped all the wives and children. So serious was the situation that his own men talked about stoning him. How did David face this crisis? Listen to what the Bible says: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
A crisis does not make a man; a crisis reveals what the man is made of. Character is not built in the crisis experiences of life. Character is built in the day-by-day experiences, the little decisions and actions that never attract attention. But what we really are is revealed for everyone to see when a crisis comes our way.
It’s interesting to see how David’s men reacted when they discovered their terrible loss. Some sat and wept until they had no more tears to shed. Others complained and blamed David, and some even suggested that they stone their leader. You wonder how that would have solved the problems; yet people do the same thing today. How easy it is in a crisis to blame somebody else, or to look for a scapegoat. But what did David do? Well, he shed tears like the rest of the soldiers because he, too, loved his family. But after that, he stopped feeling sorry for himself and he turned to the Lord for help. “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
How can you and I today get the encouragement we need in the crisis hours of life? Certainly the Lord is able to carry us through. Nothing is impossible with God. There is no problem of life too difficult for Him to solve. What, then, should we do in order to receive God’s gracious encouragement? Let me suggest some simple steps to take–in fact, the very steps that David took.
First, surrender to the will of the Lord. David asked the priest to bring him the ephod, which was that special priestly device for determining the will of God. David asked the Lord if he should pursue after the enemy, and God told him “Yes.” Then David asked if he and his men would recover their loved ones and their possessions, and again God said, “Yes.” So, before David made any move, he first determined the will of God in the matter.
You see, my friend, there are no accidents, only appointments. The crisis hours of life don’t come as a surprise to God. He knows the end from the beginning, and He knew long ago that you would need His help today. When a crisis hour invades our lives, the first thing we should do is surrender to the will of the Lord. God has a purpose to fulfill; and if we surrender to Him, it will all work out for our good and His glory. To fight God’s will, complain, and blame others is to miss the blessign God has for us in these experiences. David encouraged himself in the Lord his God by surrendering to God’s will.
But David didn’t stop there. The next thing he did was to ask God for the strength to do what needed to be done. David and his men were tired from battle, and the emotional strain of the crisis had weakened them. But in obedience to the Lord, they mounted and road off in pursuit of the enemy. Where did David and his men get the strength they needed? God gave it to them. When God tells us to do something, He always gives us the strength we need to obey.
Now, David and his men could have argued wtih God. They could have said, “Lord, we just came back from the war. We’re tired and hungry. And our hearts are broken because our dear ones have been kidnapped. Can’t we spend the night here and get some rest?” But they didn’t say that. David commanded them to secure their weapons. They mounted their animals, and off they went to conquer the enemy. God gave them the strength they needed, and God will give you the strength you need in your hour of crisis.
It’s wonderful the way God has equipped the human body for crisis experiences. When a crisis arises, our glands begin to pour out extra energy into the bloodstream; and it’s amazing what we can do when we really have to do it. No man is so brave or so strong as the man who sees his loved ones in danger and goes to rescue them. In a similar way, God has equipped us to have extra spiritual strength just when we need it. The Christian who walks with God, who prays and reads God’s Word, discovers unusual strength from the Lord in the crisis hours of life.
David depended on God’s strength, not his own. You and I can never make it through the crises if we lean on our own power. That promise in Isaiah 40:31 is so practical: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we have a strength not our own. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). I like the way J. B. Phillips translates this verse: “I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.” This is the second step in facing the crisis hour. First, we surrender to God’s will; then, we depend on God’s strength. And the strength of the Lord never fails.
But there is a third step: David trusted God to do the rest. How would David ever find where his enemies were hiding? And if he did find them, suppose they were stronger than his army? Was there enough time left? Perhaps the enemy had already killed the wives and little chidlren? So many questions went through David’s mind, but then he just turned it all over to the Lord and trusted God to work.
God did work in a wonderful way, for He led David right to the enemy camp. They caught the enemy by surprise and recovered all of their wealth and their loved ones, plus the loot the enemy left behind! It was a great victory; and, like all spiritual victories, it was a victory of faith. “And this is the victory that overcomes…even our faith.”
Four times in the Bible we read, “The just shall live by faith.” We are saved by faith, but that’s only the beginning: we are supposed to live by faith. When the crisis hours break upon us, there are some things we can do, but there are many things we cannot do. And this is where faith comes in. “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). Like David, we must do what God tells us to do. But, also like David, we must trust God to do those things that we cannot do ourselves.
Faith is a practical thing; it controls the actions of our lives. The way we believe determines how we behave. David set out in pursuit of the enemy, trusting that God would direct him and give him the victory; and God honored his faith. When the child of God is doing the will of God, he can expect the hand of God to work for him.
Right now, you may not see how your particular problem is going to be solved; but God sees, and that’s all that matters. If you look at yourself, you’ll get discouraged. If you look at the circumstances around you, you’ll get discouraged. But if by faith you look to Jesus Christ, then, like David, you will “encourage yourself in the Lord your God.” As you read His Word and rest on His promises, your faith will grow and God will lead you a step at a time out of your crisis and into His victory.
In these difficult days, learn the secret of encouraging yourself in the Lord your God. Surrender to God’s will, depend on God’s strength, and rest on God’s promises by faith. As you do, your discouragement will eventually fade and God will give you wonderful victory.
Copyright, Warren W. Wiersbe
This material originally appeared in Songs in the Night
Not to be reproduced or copied without permission of 2PU.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).