1 Samuel 30:1-6 (NLT) – Three days later, when David and his men arrived home at their town of Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid into the Negev and Ziklag; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. (2) They had carried off the women and children and everyone else but without killing anyone. (3) When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, (4) they wept until they could weep no more. (5) David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. (6) David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6).
David and his men came home from a battle to find their wives and children missing, and their city burned. His men blamed him for what happened and wanted to stone him. Even his friends and best buddies turned against him. But David found a way to keep himself strong. He encouraged himself in the Lord!
When hardship is pressing, and the test is of long duration, you must find a way to keep yourself encouraged and not lose strength. I’ve used David’s example many times when pressed. I’ve learned to encourage myself. And here’s how.
I forced myself to praise God, not because I feel like it, but because I know that praise brings the manifestation of God’s power into my situation. Israel won battles without lifting a sword by putting the praise team on the front line! Praise brings God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy. Joy produces strength.
One other thing I do is to remind myself of times in my past when the Lord has answered prayer and delivered me from a difficult situation.
Many years ago I endured a severe test while starting a church in a small city in South Carolina. Nothing was going my way. I was challenged from all sides. To deal with the pressure, I would take long walks alone and praise God for honoring His Word. Then I would remind myself of all the times that the Lord has answered prayer and had helped me in my past. I would start with the beginning of my walk with God in the mid 1970’s , and year by year go from there, speaking aloud of how time after time God helped me through a hard place in my life.
By the time I was finished I found new energy and fresh strength. The Lord did not bring me this far to let me down now! This exercise enabled me to press through the hard place to victory.
Listen to David’s words in Psalm 42 when he was discouraged and notice how he directed his attention to the times that God had helped him:
Psalms 42 (New Living Translation) – As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. (2) I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (3) Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” (4) My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! (5) Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and (6) my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. (7) I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. (8) But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (9) “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” (10) Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?” (11) Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
Take some time today to go back and do what David did to encourage himself. Think of every time you were in a hard place and God helped you through it. Rehearse it out loud on a long walk. If you do, the sun will be brighter, you’ll have a spring in your step, and your frown will become a smile. Go and encourage yourself in the Lord today!