How Do You Strengthen Yourself in the Lord?

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

1 Samuel 30:6

I’ve been marveling at this account in recent weeks, particularly this last bit about David strengthening himself in the Lord during a tumultuous time.  What’s most fascinating to me about this passage is what I don’t know – namely, how in the world does David strengthen himself in the Lord?

I can just imagine David is physically exhausted and mentally spent.  He’s feeling rather hopeless and probably on edge around everyone else.

I’d feel pretty anxious too if people wanted to kill me while my family was in upheaval.

But David knows that there’s always a way to revive himself that he can turn to, and it somehow involves the Lord’s work.

I’ve been wondering myself about what strengthens me in the Lord in times of dismay.  I thought I’d list some things here (the Bible gives a lot of different ways to find encouragement), not including the weekly discipline of Sabbath-keeping.

At the same time, I know full well that people are wired differently and can be strengthened in other ways (for instance, journaling and silence does it for some people – not for me as much).  I’d love to hear how you strengthen yourself in the Lord.

1) Pray – I suppose this is an obvious one, but it’s the one I most readily turn to.  I actually think that people who don’t even believe in God probably pray when things are tough.  I try to keep my prayers simple, and they usually sound like Anne Lamott’s two main prayers:

“Help, Help, Help.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

In an odd way, this is like Centering Prayer, a discipline I’ve picked up the past few months that has been quite helpful.

Side Note: I tend to not need silence as much.  I can be walking and praying, in the middle of a subway and praying, etc.  Maybe this is why the city is perfect for me!

2) Community – With this, I must confess I’m at an unfair advantage because I have one of the most supportive and caring spouses in the world.  In addition to affirming me and making me believe anything’s possible, she puts up with my pity-parties at time with amazing patience.

But I can’t tell you how important this was for me as a single person and as a married man now.

Tina can attest to how there are times I get sheepish about hanging out with people on different occasions, but almost 100% of the time, I’m glad I had “smart feet” and enjoyed the company of friends to get my mind off of things, laugh, and realize life is not all about me.

3) Reading Scripture – I might add that the Psalms are especially strengthening.  I suspect it might be because David wrote many of them, and this was his way of finding the courage necessary for each day.

4) Doing Something Active – Going on walks or playing basketball are key for me.

I tried running (outdoor and indoor), but running is not as helpful for me when it comes to finding replenishment.  What happens is that I tend to think “Why am I running right now when I could be walking?” and then I slow down to a steady walk.  Go figure.

I would swim if we had a free indoor swimming pool nearby.

Maybe next time I’ll post on how I can un-strengthen myself in the Lord, but then you’ll find some of my unhealthy habits that tend to be over-doing something (eating too much, watching too much television – even sports, too much social media).

Anyhow, how do you strengthen yourself in the Lord?  Are your practices similar or different than mine?

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8 responses to “How Do You Strengthen Yourself in the Lord?

  1. Spending time with friends/loved ones and being active (especially outside on a beautiful day) help me as well. It also helps me to remember–to spend time thinking about all the past situations, questions, losses, and miscellaneous challenges God has guided, protected, and/or blessed me through.

  2. Long, long walks and finding friends to talk to are very helpful for me. Prayer, in the way that I suspect most people think of prayer, causes me a lot of anxiety actually (I have some sort of performance-expectation attached to it that I haven’t been able to shake I think), but if I can trick myself into praying, like if I can visualize Jesus giving me a hug, and believe it, then I feel much more connected to everything. Poetry often helps me (esp Rumi, Rilke, and Mary Oliver), and some old stories that I bury myself in again and again (Heidi, A Little Princess, A Secret Garden, Narnia, etc.)

  3. I think for me, being outside with nature (must go outside of NYC to experience this), sports/activities with others, community, picking up my guitar and singing/praying, reading a book (any recommendations??), and getting enough sleep…

  4. Drew,
    Thanks for sharing. On the Sabbath, it’s particularly important for me to exercise resting my mind. I read the word and try to open myself to being in God’s presence. When this doesn’t work I journal to God, which is almost always fruitful. I also put on my headphones and worship with the music on my mp3 player. Everything always seems better after this. Thanks for asking!
    Baayork

  5. I strengthen myself by googling strengthening scriptures. I read meditate on them to help quiet down on the inside. Once I’m quiet I might write Jesus notes in my journal further releasing the negative and overwhelming thoughts. A grateful gradually begin to surface again…I begin to feel confident…connected…strengthen …ready

  6. I am also a church planter in the mountains of North Carolina. However, I am still pastoring the church I planted 15 years ago. I have been preaching verse by verse through Ephesians. I have started today with the armor of God in Eph. 6:10-18. In verse 10, Paul says to be strong in the Lord and in His great power. I begin to study that passage. I am finding that means to strengthen yourself in the Lord. I sit here in my chair all afternoon trying to figure out how to preach this…how do you strengthen yourself in the Lord? I found this very verse that you have listed…so I googled and found your site. I love your comments. And please share with me if you have received greater insight from the Holy Spirit on how to do this. I wish you the best in your effort to plant a church. I was heavily involved in planting churches in Western North Carolina for about 10 years. Its tough! Its rewarding! Its new! And, it takes a lot out of you. So I will be praying for you Drew!

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