One of my favorite ways of receiving encouragement is through verbal affirmation. I don’t mean the ‘good job, Pastor’ after I preach a sermon. They are those meaningful, heartfelt words that reveal how much you mean to them. It has happened a few times: for birthdays, during Pastor appreciation month, or at a prayer night where people speak where people listen to the Holy Spirit for encouragement; it could be a word, a verse, an image – anything the Lord puts on the person’s heart to share a glimpse of how God sees them. Typically, the one receiving the encouragement records the words spoken for themselves on their phone so that they can listen to it at another time. These spoken words of encouragement come in handy when I am disheartened, as it reignites and fuels me to keep going. I might be biased because I am a words person… but I’d say it is the best!
Even though this is my favorite type of encouragement to receive, I cannot rely on it for my constant source of strength. The words of affirmation can pick me up or give me a boost but cannot sustain me in the long haul. After a few days, weeks, or months, I might be discouraged again. And if my source of comfort and motivation in life came from what people said, I would be persistently seeking out others for their approval, needing their ‘words of acceptance’ to rule my life.
That is why nothing can take the place of encouraging oneself in the Lord. Nothing! No matter what type of affirmation you need from others, it does not compare to when the Lord has to say about you. His good thoughts towards you outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139:18). You are His masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus, which he prepared in advance for you (Ephesians 2:10). The Lord takes pleasure in you because you fear Him (Psalm 147:11), and He is your rock, your shield, the horn of your salvation, in whom you take refuge (Psalm 18:1-2). Of course, there is much more the Lord has to say about you… this is only scratching the surface!
Last week, we looked at David, who was stuck in a terrible predicament: his men talked of taking his life. A series of missteps from David has led to the destruction of the city they were residing in. They found the city on fire and their wives, children, and all their possessions missing. The enemy had taken their loved ones captive, and they are unsure of whether their families are alive. David is stuck, or what is commonly known as ‘between a rock and a hard place.’ (Between A Rock And A Hard Place)
David had no one to turn to and no place to go. He did not have one companion come alongside him and give him insight into his situation. David did not have time to seek a long, lost friend who could encourage him when he needed it. Instead, David turned to what he knew best and to who would give him the strength required to persevere:
“But David found strength in the Lord his God.” – 1 Samuel 30:6
Looking to the source of life for words of life is where one must turn. When you are in between ’a rock and a hard place,’ who has the solution that you have not thought of? Who can provide a way when there is ‘no way?’ Who can lift you up, instill hope inside of you, and give you the strength you need to sustain you? Only the Lord Jesus Christ can!
If you are the practical type, you might be thinking, “How did David strengthen himself in the Lord His God?” “How can I do the same?”
First, to strengthen oneself in God is to recognize the love of God. Remember, it was at David’s point of total weakness with no human aid when the Lord strengthened him. The Lord’s providential love was made known through the rejection of the Philistine leaders (1 Samuel 29). If the Philistine leaders had not sent them back to Ziglag, they would not have persevered for the victory to reclaim all that the Amalekites had taken and more (1 Samuel 30:18-19). Think through the situation you are in – How has the Lord protected you so far? What His God’s providential love done for you?
Second, to strengthen oneself is to remember previous victories in the Lord. David might be in trouble, but as we know… he’s been in a tight squeeze before! He had his victory over Goliath (1 Samuel 17), several escape attempts from King Saul, and victorious battles over the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:1-6). If God has done it before, He will do it again. Recall the times the Lord has been there for you. Think through how you have gained the victory in Christ by His provision, protection, or other triumphant battles you have faced. The reminders of past successes are not to remain as ancient memories but should be fashioned as stepping stones to future victories that will be won.
Third, to strengthen oneself is to recall God’s promises and calling. The Lord has declared David as the next King of Israel, so this couldn’t be the end! As long as David is in God’s will, God will get him out of this situation to deliver on that promise. The Lord has given you his very great and precious promises, all for His glory (2 Peter 1:4). Have you sought out those promises for your life? Are you fulfilling the calling He has given you? If you feel stuck, confused, worn down, frustrated, depressed, or lost – bring back those promises God has spoken to you to encourage yourself. You are not meant to stay in an unhealthy emotional state or in chaotic circumstances – those promises are words of encouragement to remind you that God is with you, He is for you, and the Lord will lead you out to greener pastures. Trust in His Word!
David’s strength found in the Lord led him to ultimate victory. He inquired of the Lord to chase the raiding party, persevered in their pursuit, and took back everything that was stolen.
“David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.” – 1 Samuel 30:18-20
The Lord’s favor was upon David, so much so, that he had received more than what was taken; He took back the rest of the loot the Amalekites had taken from other nations. David tactfully gave this plunder to elders in Judah (and previous friends who have helped him up to this point) to help secure his position when he becomes king of Israel (1 Samuel 30:26-31).
Imagine what God will do for you if you persevere in seeking the Lord for your strength? Rather than turning to others, you seek the wisdom of God first. By finding your strength in the Lord, you will be encouraged to take steps boldly, to lead with diligence, and to navigate with wisdom through difficult decisions ahead.
Find strength in the Lord your God. You will not be disappointed as He will lead you to victory.
Have a blessed week!