Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

If you’re like me then you have spent much of your week pondering our current reality of “social distancing” in hopes of mitigating the spread of the Covid 19 virus. Many people have expressed that it feels like this is a bad dream, or as posted on Facebook, some kind of “make belief story written by a fourth grader.”

Like me, you may also question whether the threat of the virus warrants the recommendation from our government to avoid all unnecessary contact with those we normally share life with.  (That being said, I also believe I must submit to those who are in authority). It doesn’t take long to realize that our means of slowing the spread of the virus is already having a significant impact on our lives, relationally, financially, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Will I ever be able to touch my face again!? 🙂

And like me, as a result of the sudden halt of our normal daily routines and the uncertainty of when, or if, normal ever returns, the number of times you approach the throne of grace now far exceeds the number of times you wash your hands each day.

As I process the shock of our current reality, one of my favorite stories from 1 Samuel 30 comes to mind. And again, not exactly like the pandemic we’re dealing with, but it’s a story filled with fear, anxiety, anger and a brief period of social distancing which causes David to seek God’s divine help.

The story goes like this, “David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

“When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Imagine being away from your family and community on a business trip for a few weeks, only to return to find your community has been totally destroyed and your family has been kidnapped. And even worse, you were responsible. Imagine the level of anxiety, fear, and loneliness David immediately felt while walking through the rubble, and even more so, when he discovered his closest allies want to kill him.

And how did David respond to the devastation of his home and community and the uncertainty of the fate of his family? It says, “But David found strength in the Lord.” Or in the NASB it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.”

I’ve been thinking about that verse a lot this week? What action did David take in order to strengthen himself in the Lord? I wonder, did David spend a lot of time on Facebook or Snapchat?  And in light of all that is unfolding in our world, how do I “strengthen myself in the Lord?”

Not saying this is the only way to strengthen yourself in the Lord, but it begins by finding a quiet place to pray. Even Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:16). Be authentic with God; acknowledge all the different emotions you are feeling. And yes, spend time rehearsing the promises of God found in the written and living Word of God. Spend time in worship; worship through song has a natural way of connecting your heart to the heart of God. And let me also add, nothing wrong with reading other people’s devotional insights, but let me encourage you to have your own encounter with God. Maybe take some time and write your own Psalm and share it with your family. Inquire of the Lord what you can do, and then walk in radical obedience      (1 Samuel 30:7-8).

May it be so with you and me that during this unexpected trial that we grow in “strengthening ourselves in the Lord.” I’m excited to hear about your encounters with God!!

Grace to you! And God be with you til we meet again, Mike Altena


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