You know the scene.
“They” are not happy with you.
You receive embittered looks. Or the pointed finger. Worse yet, their anger rains down on you with the heaviness of steel blows. Their distress becomes your distress. It’s enough to want to jump into a Michigan pothole and disappear from life. What do you do in instances like this? I present some options for you to consider.
Sound familiar? Yep. Sigh. Me, too. They’re not very healthy options, are they?
Wait a minute, though.
Did you notice anything interesting about all of these different options? There is a puzzle in the statements above. What do all of these have in common? Can you solve it?
Yes, it is a list of fleshly ways in which we all try to cope and fix our pain, but that’s not the answer. Take another creative look at what all of these statements have in common. Look broadly. It's not what you think.
Before I share the answer, let me share what happened to David in 1 Samuel 29 and 30, after he had spent a year with the Philistines, who were heading into war.
David and his men were coming up in the rear of the army, having left their families in the city of Ziklag. They intended to fight with the troops. The commanders, however, told the Israelites to go, fearful of them turning and becoming adversaries.
David and his men set back for Ziklag only to find it burned to the ground and all of their wives and children carried off.
Shocked at the desolation, the men lifted their voices together to mourn until they couldn’t weep any longer.
The pain still burned within them like the never-ending charr that encircled them. Unable to cope, they turned their full-on affliction toward their leader, David.
“Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters.” 1 Samuel 30:6
The angry words swirled around David to the point where he feared for his physical safety. He had to do something.
Do you remember our options above before we figure out what David did? Did you discern what all of the statements above had in common?
Each option above of reacting to distress contains exactly nine words.
[Yep. Nine words. I warned you that it wasn't what you thought.]
“Okay. Cool. But why did you create those statements with nine words,” you may ask.
Because when the bitter voices swarmed around David, the “something” he did was also nine words long. Go ahead. Count them below now. You know you'll want to.
Strung together, these nine words carry an important discovery.
“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”
First, the word “his” highlights itself with some critical meaning. In the Old Testament, men often called the LORD by a collective name, the LORD of Israel. David personalizes the LORD for himself, and he strengthens himself in the LORD his God. He had a personal relationship that would provide for him in this intense time of distress.
David’s tears mingled with the dust kicked back into his nostrils as he lay on the dusty, scorched ground offering praise to his Lord. His own two wives were in the spoil, after all. I can imagine his words.
“I worship you, LORD. You are so good to me. So precious. I praise you, and I adore you. I thirst for you like a deer pants for the water. I need you more than that. I can’t take another step without you because you are everything to me. You are enough at this very moment. I know you will never leave me. Your presence always goes with me. I know You will lead me. I trust you, LORD. I love you. I trust you. Even now.”
What do you do when the mob is unhappy with you, when another’s anger burns against you, or when you feel like the entire world is against you?
You strengthen yourself in the LORD your God.
I pray today that you spend time before the LORD, worshipping and praising him. That was David's way and I hope it will become yours and mine, as well. It is the secret to surviving those horrendously hard moments. Let your voice of adoration rise up to Jesus Christ. The joy of the Lord is your strength. Yes, His joy will become your own joy. True. But even more profound, the pleasure of knowing HIM for himself in hard times becomes a satisfaction like no other.
It’s better than a cool drink of water after climbing a mountain to view a sunset. It’s better than the first taste of a fresh strawberry after a long winter. It’s better than the feeling of falling back onto your pillow while closing your eyes on a weary and tiring day. It's better than when that Michigan pothole is finally filled. It’s better than anything you can think of because it’s the only thing that refreshes from the inside out.
“But Aleisha strengthened herself in the LORD her God.”
Go ahead and insert your name.
“But (insert your name here) strengthened her/himself in the LORD her/his God.”
Next time you face bitter words and angry faces, remember these nine important words which speak of our true source.
How? How do I strengthen myself in the LORD my God? Let's talk about this in the next post. I ran into the same question.
But for now, let's be friends who remind each other to find the source of comfort and joy in the only one who can satisfy—Jesus Christ.
Nine words, my friends!
p.s. If you figured out my puzzle, please let me know below.
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