Jesus said that in the world we will have trouble (John 16:33). Job said, “Man born of woman will have trouble as surely as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). See also Psalm 34:19. Sometimes the challenges are so intense we can be severely distressed.
Distressed means to bind, be in distress, be cramped, be narrow, be scant, be in straits, make narrow, cause distress, besiege, to suffer distress. In other words, to put it in the vernacular, you are between a rock and a hard place; you feel like you have no way out. In many of these instances we cannot depend on other people to build faith into us. We all need spiritual counsel, comfort from others, spiritual authority, and a safe community of faith to belong to, but no one can do the work of building your faith!
David strengthened himself because at that time there was no one present who could help him in God. If you are the head of a household, spouse, student, business owner, employee, or any situation in life, you will often be in the same situation because often you have to make your own decisions about what to do in life. David was accustomed to strengthening himself in the Lord. He spent hours alone taking care of sheep and writing music based on prophetic songs and prayers that God gave him. For example: Psalm 23:1-3; 34:4-7, 36:7-9; 40:1-4; 42:6-8
Many people in the church do not know how to strengthen themselves. They want other people to seek the Lord for them. People come up to me for prayer because they say that God hears my prayers but not their prayers. This is nonsense! One of the greatest miracles in Christianity is the strength we have on the inside of us to deal with the tensions and challenges of life. This is why Paul said in Philippians 4:13 that he “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The Bible tells us to “work out our own salvation” (Philippians 2:12).
Depending on others to be strong in the Lord for you is as foolish as telling someone to go to the gym and work out for you! The person training their muscles is the one who will receive the benefits, not the friend standing in the gym with them. For example, if your wife diets and eats healthy it is not going to help you if you are living on fried foods. Your wife will be healthy and you unhealthy, no matter how much your wife encourages you and tells you that you are doing well!
There are many things we must do for ourselves that others cannot do for us: studying for a test, learning how to walk, riding a bike, driving a car, exercising, dieting, thinking positively, motivating yourself to pray, worshipping, and reading the Bible. The Bible teaches that our success is based on how we discipline ourselves to grow in the knowledge of the Lord (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1, 2 Timothy 2:15).
Personally, I would be a mess, not capable of handling all of my personal and ministerial responsibilities if it were not for my private time alone with God. Even Jesus had to strengthen Himself in the Lord to fulfill His mission. Read Luke 22:39-46. First Corinthians 14:2, 4 teaches that when we pray in the Spirit we edify (strengthen) ourselves. Jude 20 commands us to build up ourselves in our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.
Growth in Christ consists in four main areas: prayer, studying the Bible, commitment to covenant & accountability in the community of faith, and overcoming temptation in the world. Let us take responsibility for our own growth & walk with God and repent of depending on others to be strong and exercise faith for us.
Text: 1 Samuel 30:1-6, 18-19
And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 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. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 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 … And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.