Most everyone I know, to one degree or another, is struggling with weariness. Real weariness. Perhaps that includes you. These are wearying times. Our hearts are broken over the situation in Ukraine. Then we remember Afghanistan, and our hearts break some more. Then we look at the situation closer to home, as we try to make sense of the strife and unrest and division that seem to underlie nearly every hot-button issue in our own nation, and our hearts break some more. Then we look at the abject brokenness which seems to characterize so many churches right now, and we simply want to weep. The profound sadness and the mental-spiritual exhaustion seem to merge against us as a frontal assault.
The more brokenness we see and experience, the more broken we feel. At least that’s how it seems to operate in my life.
So in my morning devotions today I made my way to 1 Samuel 30, where David reaches one of those low points in his own life. His town of Ziklag has been raided by the Amalekites and burned to the ground, and his family has been captured. The people surrounding David are grieving like never before. They are utterly distraught. They are “bitter in soul.” And the people turn on David and seriously consider stoning him. It was a near-mutiny. Like I said, it is a very low point for David – perhaps the lowest of the lows for David. (If you know the context, he’s been running for his life for quite some time now.)
Then, out of the blue, Verse 6 offers an interesting ray of hope: But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
That moment made all the difference! David begins to see clearly. David begins to think clearly. David begins to move forward for the Lord in a clear and purposeful direction.
Please let that sink in. Clear. Clear. Clear. Purpose.
I’m getting a little more encouraged even as I write these words. Because that is what each one of us really needs right now. Clear. Clear. Clear. Purpose.
And, back to the story of the shepherd-boy who would be king, David’s renewed energy soon began to spill over into the souls of others, until all of the men in David’s company were refreshed. And these were all men, like David, who had previously bottomed out in sheer exhaustion. But wondrously, their zest was revived!
How do we get that? How do we get there? How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? How can we possibly muster the strength and the courage that we need for these wearying times? Friends, here’s what I think we must do …
- Remember that we live in a fallen world.
As a result of that one simple fact, it is not unusual for us to struggle with what we see happening around us (and even what we see happening in us). The systemic sin which marks this planet, and the systems of this world – and even human nature itself – should not surprise us. Some seasons will be more difficult than others. When the more difficult seasons come, you and I must remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12). That mindset will go a long way toward helping us hold on when it seems like everything and everyone is working against us. The good news: this world will not groan forever! Calvary’s cross is Exhibit A.
- Remember that we serve an undefeatable Savior.
I’ve read the story through to the end. Spoiler alert: Jesus wins! David “strengthened himself” by turning immediately to God. So must we. When David sought the Lord for the wisdom that he needed, that wisdom was his. The grave situation in which he found himself no longer seemed unworkable, as David’s path began to be illumined with just enough light to take the next step. And one clear step led to another, and then to another. When our minds are fixed on our gracious and sovereign God, so it is with us. Spiritual clarity breeds every other kind of needed clarity.
- Remember that the strength of Jesus is perfected in our weaknesses.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10. In that beautiful text, the Apostle Paul reiterates what David also learned. So must we. You and I don’t sign up for weakness, but weakness comes our way. Sometimes, in God’s providence, it’s weakness followed by more weakness (what some of us are sensing now). But this is where our Lord does His best work in us: at those moments in our journey where we know that the needed strength can’t possibly be coming from us. That’s when Jesus shines brightest. It was David himself who penned those gorgeous and glorious words: “He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3).
- Remember that Christ’s strength is never for us alone.
We’re in this together. We need each other. We are for each other, on many occasions, the hands and feet of Christ. One day I will be weak, and you will assist me. Another day you will be weak, and I will assist you. We pray for each other. We encourage each other. We bless (not bless out, lol) each other. David was strengthened for a much broader and higher purpose. Higher, in fact, than David’s own comprehension. He had a job to do. He had a mission to complete. He had a race to run for God’s glory. So do you and I.
David seized the strength that he needed. So must we. Right now.
And I think I’m starting to remember where that strength can be found.