by Amanda McKelroy | December 10, 2016
Rarely a week goes by where we do not handle stressful situations. Never does a day go by when something does not go the way we planned. And then of course, there’s always Monday looming in the future. It is easy in the midst of struggles to get discouraged, distressed, and even depressed. But who says we must have a rough day just because it’s Monday? Why do we stress out when the “Big Boss” shows up unannounced? Why do we let circumstances and environment affect our happiness? The sunny days of our lives can turn into rainy days for weeks on end if we let them. We can have sunshine in our souls and peace in our hearts if we really wanted to. So how do we face the stress of life, “Monday,” the gloomy weather, the poor attitudes of those around us, and still maintain a genuinely joyful disposition? By encouraging ourselves in the Lord.
I Samuel 30:6 – “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.”
My entire life I’ve heard sermons and lessons on this verse. I’ve been screamed at, spit on (Preachers tend to spit when they’re excited), and pleaded with to choose to encourage myself in the Lord instead of responding like David’s men when I am distressed. But I have always walked away from those sermons and lessons asking myself, “How?” How did David encourage himself in the Lord his God? Let me direct your attention to the story of David and Goliath. It is in this story that I found the answer.
I Samuel 17: 33-37 – “And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.”
David had a cause bigger than life!
I Samuel 17:26 – “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God.”
When David heard Goliath disrespecting not only the armies of Israel, but also the ability of God to deliver His people from the Philistine army he couldn’t ignore it. David’s cause was more important to him than his fear of confrontation. He didn’t turn away and say, “I’m not a soldier so it’s none of my business.” No, instead he asked, “Is there not a cause?” (I Samuel 17: 29b) David knew he couldn’t walk away from the situation. He chose to trust God to guide him, and volunteered to face the giant. He wasn’t rude. He didn’t demean the soldiers who were afraid to face Goliath. He didn’t judge the men around him. He didn’t give them a piece of his mind. He simply volunteered, and he did so with a meek attitude. “And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:32)
Know your cause!
A Christian’s purpose is to glorify God, to live a life that pleases Him.
I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
What is your purpose in life? Do you strive to live a life that keeps God first and pleases him or do you put yourself first and seek only to please yourself? Who do you want to please the most?
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Your cause, or your purpose, dictates what decisions you will make, your attitude, what you say, how you treat others, and how you handle stress.
Ephesians 4:32 – “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
David drew on past experience for encouragement.
At the end of the book of Samuel, later in David’s life, we see David encouraging himself in the Lord when he was distressed. It’s hard to imagine that prior to the time he faced Goliath his distress had ever been higher than that very moment. His response to his stressful situation was to remember when God had helped him in the past and trusting God to do it again. This youthful shepherd boy stood before the mighty King of Israel and said: “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:37) When you are distressed, do you remind yourself of past times that God has come through for you or do you throw a pity-party?
Did you know that David wrote most of the book of Psalms? The Psalms tell stories of the times God delivered David and the children of Israel from different enemies. They are full of promises that God will deliver his children; and full of encouragement for God’s children to lean on when dealing with the struggles of life. Here are just a few examples:
Psalm 40:1-3 – “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
Psalm 5:11 – “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”
Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
David’s cause conquered his giant!
David understood who he was: a shepherd boy and a child of God. As Christians who have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are children of good too! This is the very foundation for our cause, our purpose: living lives that please God.
Romans 8:16, 31, 35a – “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…What shall we then say to these things? If God be fore us, who can be against us…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Galatians 3:26 – “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Back in the Bible days there weren’t “pinky promises.” When you gave your word, it was considered the same as a promise. The Word of God is full of promises from God! When the Bible says that God will do something, it’s as good as a pinky-promise! We can claim these verses and trust that God will do what He says in the Scriptures!
II Peter 1:4 – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…”
We can trust God to take care of us! He loved us enough to die for us! Christ didn’t just walk away after the resurrection. He continued helping and ministering to people…. And He still does it today. We can have sunshine in our souls because we have a God in whom we can put our trust.
Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 36:7 – “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”
Psalm 56:3 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
We can have peace in our hearts. We have a God who is real, and acts on our behalf. We have a God who wants a relationship with us, who wants to bless us, who wants to provide for us. All we have to do is ask!
Luke 12:6-7 – “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Luke 11:9 – “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened.”
It is not a hard thing to have joy in the middle of stress when you turn to the truths and promises in the Bible and claim them as your own. Being joyful is a choice, a choice we must intentionally make every day.
Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Ephesians 5:19 – “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”
Psalm 13:6 – “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”
David used these tools over and over again in his life. He was known as the “Man after God’s own heart,” perhaps because he was faithful to encourage himself in the Lord throughout the trials of his life? He wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot. But when he found himself in a difficult situation, in distress, overwhelmed, or feeling gloomy; he made a conscious decision to deal with it by remembering his cause, remembering the times God delivered him in the past, and trusting God would do it again. We can do the same, and have the tremendous result of sunshine in our souls and peace in our hearts even on Monday.
Colossians 1:10-11 – “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;”