One night about 10 p.m., a neighbourhood friend came to ask me to drive him a short distance away. We drove about six miles. At some point, he asked me to stop and wait as he exited the vehicle and disappeared into the darkness for about 20 minutes. When he re-emerged, he gave me $40.00 and asked me to take him back home. For a poor guy scraping to make a living, that money was welcomed. This continued for several weeks; until one day, I realized that the place I dropped him off was the same block on which the biggest drug dealer on the Island lived. I also recalled that the police had conducted many drug raids in that area. It dawned on me, that even in my innocence, if a cop had stopped and search my vehicle and found contraband, the penalty would be steep. As I sat and contemplated the possibilities, I began to tremble. The punishment for drug offence of that nature is easily 20 – 30 years in prison. I contemplated, how through no fault of my own that I would lose any semblance of freedom or life. The academic ambitions, my life in church, prospective family, all that would be lost. And I would be rotting away in prison through no fault of my own. Just that thought by itself is hunting. The notion of being incarcerated for something that is not ones fault could be daunting.
Some of us may not be in prison, nor physically incarcerated, but you may be alone in your mind with a problem you did not cause. So, how do you find courage and joy in a situation where both these attributes are in rear supply?
David’s great distress
The following scripture shows that David endured such an experience:
1 Samuel 30: 3, So David and his men came to the city, and behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
David, in his drive to protect Judah and the surrounding provinces from impending destruction, left the city to find help to fight the Amalekites, their enemy. But upon his return, found that the Amalekites had burnt the city to the ground and captured the strongest men and the most beautiful women and carried them away captive. Even David’s beloved wives were taken.
So heart-breaking was that episode, that David and his men wept until they could not muster a single tear anymore. And to add insult to injury, the people started looking to stone him to death – the very people for which he was risking his life.
(6) And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters.
For us to have an inkling of David’s travail, let consider what we might call distress in today’s era: For us, what it means to be in great distress: maybe it is when you get home and without any warning your husband hands you a bill of divorce; it may be that your husband or wife all of a sudden begins to act strange but will not explain why; maybe it is an unexpected pink slip; maybe that bread winner cannot win the bread anymore; it may be fire, hurricane or a tornado destroying everything that you own; maybe your only son gets arrested and killed; it could be a medical diagnosis that comes out of nowhere; great distress could be a woman struggling to conceive her first child. Great distress could also mean after waiting long years to conceive, the doctor announced that the baby is in the wrong tube. Great distress sometimes means, a six-more-months-to-live diagnosis. And certainly, great distress could be disaster that fall upon you through no fault of your own. David was in great distress.
So, how did David deal with situations of pain-in-loneliness?
(6) And David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of every man grieved for his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. (David encouraged himself in the lord, KJV).
Have you had a problem where those closest to you knew nothing about it; or like in David story, too out-of-touch or dealing with too much of their own problem to understand?
So, what does one do to encourage themselves in the Lord?
Here are pointers for encouraging yourself in the Lord:
Speak Life into Your Life
The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21. If you speak something that agrees with God’ will, it will come to be. He said ask and it shall be granted. Don’t speak it just because the pastor said it, speak it because you believe God almighty is your father and he gives good gifts to his kids according to his will.
Read Encouraging Scriptures:
Phil. 1:4, In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.
The book of Philippians is sometimes referred to as the Book of Joy. But did you know that Paul wrote the book of Philippians while he was in jail? Could you imagine finding joy in such a place? Reading encouraging scripture in time of distress – remember David says the Joy of the Lord is my strength.
Take godly advice
One of the worst things a Christian can do when they are struggling is to take up counsel from the ungodly.
Find yourself in church.
When I am struggling, I do my best to make it into the church house as much as possible.
Not only is this worship pleasing unto God, but it’s encouraging to constantly be in an atmosphere where His presence is sought, (https://www.theferventmama.com/).
Still, when the burden is yours alone to carry, pray for these things: abundant life in Jesus, peace of mind, joy and gladness, and more power to speak life into your life.