Discouragement is something every one experiences from time to time. When our expectations are disappointed we become discouraged. For some believers, discouragement can quickly turn into depression. Such a condition can be debilitating and effect a person’s life in a profoundly negative manner.
David encountered such an instance in 1 Samuel 30. David and his men set up a base in Ziklag. It was there that their families established homes. While David and his men are evading Saul’s assaults, the Amalekites (whom Saul failed to destroy) launch an attack on David’s base. The enemy destroys their homes and possessions and takes captive their families.
David and his men have now lost everything. Verse 4 says, “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep" (1 Samuel 30:4). David was overwhelmed with deep depression. He and his men had cried until they had no more tears to shed. I can only imagine how hopeless they must have felt.
Verse 6 goes on to tell us that, “the people spake of stoning him” (1 Samuel 30:6a). While overcome with discouragement, the people sought someone to blame and falsely accuse David for their pain. When times get hard we often look to blame someone or something for our hurt. Unfortunately, our blame is usually misdirected. Such behavior only makes a bad situation worse. David was not the problem, but rather, Saul’s disobedience was the real issue. But since Saul wasn’t present, however, David became a convenient scapegoat.
I surmise that David was pretty low at this point. Saul was seeking to kill him. He had lost his family to the Amalekites. Now his own men were considering kill him. There was not much at this time in his life that was positive. So what did David do? The Scripture says is the later part of verse 6, “but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6b). In this account we learn a tremendous principle regarding discouragement, “Change your perspective and change your heart.”
David altered where he was looking and it made an incredible difference in his life. Now understand that changing his perspective did not erase the reality of the situation. Saul was still on the prowl seeking to kill him. His wives and family were still hostages of the Amalekites. His men were still emotionally devastated and looking for payback. So what was different? By changing his perspective, David saw something that neither he nor his men could see from their original position.
Where do you look when you are down? Probably down, right? David’s men were so engulfed with their sorrow and hopelessness that all that they could see was the pain. That’s what happens to us. We feel the hurt and affixed our focus on our hurt. All we see is the hurt and as a result we begin to blame those around us for our condition. It is in the moment that we fail to take notice of God. Yes, God is present but in our pain we don’t see Him.
Where should we look?
- Look Inside: It’s okay to notice our pain. In fact, it is essential that we acknowledge the reality of our hurt and not pretend it doesn’t exist. The key is to correctly identify the source of our pain. David’s men were hasty in their judgment. Determine the true source and refuse to play the blame game.
- Look Up: David’s encouragement was directed toward the Lord. When all was lost, God became his motivation to go on. In the midst of the crushing hurt, God was there. Our theology teaches us that God is ever-present, however, in our lifestyle we often act as though we were atheists. It has been said that God will never place upon you a burden so great that you can bear it. This is view is not true. God will allow burdens to come upon you that are so immense that you cannot handle them. It is at such time that you must look up.
- Look Back: God was not only present in the trial; He was also there in your past trials. When David was confronting Goliath, he gained courage as he recalled how God had sustained him as he had faced a loin and bear. God is faithful! Look back upon what God has done for you in the past, and take comfort that He is with you right now.
- Look Ahead: Life doesn’t remain stationary. There is no “pause-button” when it comes to life. Realize that even though today you are down, tomorrow will come with new opportunities. God has a plan for your life. Look toward what He wants to accomplish in your life and refuse defeat. For the believer, we have been promised heaven and an eternity alongside our Lord and Savior. In the end, we win!
Disappointments are unavoidable, but disappointment is a choice. Remember, “Change your perspective and change your heart.” Be encouraged in the Lord!