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?