1 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.”
When trials become prolonged, they can reduce us to our most base selves. They will expose who we are at our core. If we are optimistic, we will still be optimistic. If we are critical, depressed, or without hope, who we are and what we are will come through.
Some are passionate about their job. Workers will strap in and hunker down when faced with difficulty, never once considering the words “quit” or “failure” a part of their vocabulary.
It is the same in our relationships.
When the hard times come, our commitment, our dedication, and our love will shine through. Ultimately, when we are at the end of ourselves physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually, we’ll be hard-pressed to find something or someone on which to hold.
We see others and how they handle the adversity in their lives. Some will thrive at the challenge, while others fail miserably. Who we are and what we are, shines through in our struggles and trials.
God chooses these times to reveal Himself to us, and sometimes things about ourselves we need to see. Today, we see David and his men returning home only to find that the Amalekites had plundered them.
The expectation of a warm fire, a home-cooked meal, and seeing wife and family were dashed to pieces when they crested the hill and saw smoke rising from their city of Ziklag.
When we are at our end, we may sink in our spirit and try to reason why this happened. David’s men blamed him for this and spake of stoning him. They reacted.
But David, who had also lost wives, family, and wealth, sat down and found his center. His reliance was not on the strength of his arm, his intellect, or the balance sheet on his financial portfolio, and it was set firmly in his God.
We may turn to God in despair and ask, “Why?” Often, we are met with silence because God desires we go on trusting without the knowledge of what is to come. There are so many Bible characters with which can relate their experience and find courage in the hardest of times.
Job, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, and especially our Lord are biblical examples of those who triumphed in extreme trials. Tempted in the desert for forty days, Jesus was at his absolute limit physically, emotionally, mentally, and all were weighing on Him spiritually. It was at that moment the devil came to tempt Him.
The devil maximized his opportunity, knowing that in His weakness, Jesus might give in to his temptations. The devil is not original and uses the same tactics on us.
We find in David, and throughout each of those who went through extreme trials, it was their faith in God that saw them through every time. It must not be a reaction on our part, but a prepared action that will be our response.
We must know His promise to us.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
We must trust His presence with us at all times.
Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
We must believe that whatever comes our way, is going to be used for good.
Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
I included verses 29 and 30 to show the purpose within the context of Paul’s letter. Whatever we face, it is used to make us more like Jesus. Though we may not like the ingredients to the recipe God has for us, we can trust that the finished product will be pleasing in His sight.
Clay, when it is pliable, is easily formed. When it is neglected and hardens, it takes much more work to transform the lump into the work of art in the potter’s hands. When we allow our hearts to become cold, distant, and hard toward God, it will take more to become workable in the hands of our Master Potter.
When a man is at the end of himself, who he is, becomes evident. The military does this with recruits to form them into fighting warriors. When you know your limits, you can best prepare what to do when you reach them.
The Word of God teaches us never to stop trusting, even in the darkest of times. We see David going back to what he knew. He returned to the sweetness of his relationship with God. I am sure, he sang, rehearsed past victories, and times when God was close.
We can encourage ourselves when there seems to be no one to do it for us. We can rehearse answered prayers, victories won, and times when God was so close, we could reach out and touch Him.
Music that speaks to our soul and lifts our spirit toward God is necessary for such a time. To start to find it when we are in the trial is extremely difficult. Having it ready as a resource for such times is much more prudent.
Job never knew what was about to hit him that day when God gave the devil permission to put him through the trial of his life. It was who Job was before the trial that saw him through. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. is quoted to have said,
“The test of your character is what it takes to stop you.”
How we prepare for the test before it comes reveals our faith.
So, when all else fails, what will you do?