Bad Things, Good People
If God is completely in control, why do our lives sometimes not turn out as planned? If God is love, why do we experience so much difficulty? All of us eventually have to answer these questions in some form or another. In my own walk with God, I have discovered a truth, a promise, that really helps me when I’m struggling. It is found throughout Scripture, but a certain section of David’s story prominently displays it.
Forced to leave Israel because of King Saul’s deadly rampage against him, David and his men had been serving a Philistine lord named Achish. Achish loved David and was led to believe that David had fully defected to him, heart and soul. But the princes of the Philistines, for good reason, did not trust David. They had no intention of letting a Hebrew fight with them against Israel. So right before the big battle, David and his men were sent home.
When they arrived at their city of Ziklag, they found it completely ravaged. The Amalekites had attacked while David and his men were away, carrying off their families and their possessions and setting the city on fire.
Consider the situation for a moment. In a short period of time, David and his men were stripped of everything they valued. They were warriors who were not allowed to fight. Their enemies had stolen their families and destroyed their homes. Their heartache is tangible in 1 Samuel 30:4: “David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.”
Difficulty and Promise
But that is not the conclusion to the story. This horrific situation in David’s life ended up being the very thing that ushered him into God’s promise. He and his men went after the Amalekites, defeated them and recovered more than the enemy had stolen from them. David used the spoils of war to fund his campaign to become the king of Hebron, and seven years later, he basically walked into Jerusalem and became king of the entire nation of Israel.
In the darkest, deepest shadow of night, God always has a plan. If we choose Him instead of fear, anger or bitterness, He will unfold the rest of the story to us, and we will realize that if it had not been for the difficulty, we never would have walked into the promise.
David’s conflict with the Amalekites is a striking illustration of Paul’s simple statement in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Do you hear what Paul is saying? “God is coming. We may be at the end of our rope. We may be desperate. We may have nothing left — but God is coming. We are about to witness something incredible.”
God Is Coming
How does this realization of God and His purposes become an active part of our lives? In the aftermath of the Amalekites’ attack, when he was at his lowest point, David chose to strengthen himself in God. He knew that we don’t inquire of the Lord when our faith is weak. We can’t strengthen ourselves in somebody who seems small to us; in order to strengthen ourselves in God, we have to know who He is. We have to know how He can help us and remind ourselves of His nature and character. Then, when our faith in Him is restored, we can ask Him what He wants to do.
If we can remember the principle of strengthening first and asking second, we will save ourselves a lot of heartache, and we will be able to recognize what is real, despite the pain and the enemy’s taunting. Everything God does is glorious. Everything God does reflects who He is. Everything God does is in alignment with the truth of His names. This means His plans are good even when we can’t see that goodness. This means there is a plan, even when it seems like there isn’t a plan.
Everything we do in the Kingdom of God is instigated by faith and fulfilled by faith. Nothing happens in the Kingdom without faith. When life doesn’t turn out the way we planned, we need to do what David did and strengthen ourselves in God until our faith in Him is restored and we can see His face clearly.
Then we need to prepare for breakthrough — because God is coming, and we are about to witness something incredible.