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Scott Ingegneri

Have you noticed that sometimes life doesn’t play out the way that we expected? I have had many experiences of rejection, loss, disappointment and moments that forced a response from my life. There is always the choice of bitterness, anger and defeat. There is also the choice of life. There is the choice set before us to encourage ourselves in the Lord and move forward with His strength.

I have always been so blessed by the scripture that states “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” It is interesting to me that it states God’s joy is our strength, not our own joy! I don’t have to muster anything up, yet I do have to connect to the source and receive from Him.

King David understood this and lived this. You may look at the life of David and think everything was handed to him on a silver plater. David was a King and had palaces! You may even think he couldn’t relate to common folk, or had no idea what “normal life” was like. But David had to learn in His lowest moments how to encourage Himself in the Lord. God used the low moments in David’s life as opportunities of learning. In other words,:

King David learned how to chose life. He exalted the Lord and set the example of praise for all generations to come.

Not many of us have experienced as bad a day as David did when he returned to his home in Ziklag after a journey and discovered that his enemies, the Amalekites, had destroyed or stolen everything that was important to him--and his own men turned against him.

Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, 2 and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. 3 So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. 6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was [a]grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
— 1 Samuel 30:1-6 NKJV

Another version says that David stopped and encouraged himself in the Lord. I think this is a pretty good response to imitate. As David sat among the ruins of Ziklag, and mutinous men spoke of stoning him, he had a choice. David could allow grief and bitterness to conquer him; he could sink into the black hole of depression and give up and quit. Or he could fight back.

But before David could fight, he would have to get his strength and courage back. As David looked around him, he saw nothing but discouraged and downcast men. David had no one to encourage him, so he had only one recourse: He “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

 From what we know of David, it is very easy to surmise some idea of what it may have looked like when David went about encouraging himself.  Maybe He took his harp, retreated to a solitary place, and began to sing songs of praise to God. No doubt David didn’t feel like singing, but he did, anyway. History would show that this is a likely picture of him connecting to God’s strength and encouraging himself in the Lord.

He didn’t sing a sad lament bemoaning his situation. Instead, he sang of the majesty and power of God. He sang of the Creator who had spoken the worlds into existence. He sang of the deliverer who had already given him improbable victories—victory over the lion, victory over the bear, and victory over the Philistine giant Goliath.

Through praise and worship, David changed his focus. On the wings of a song his spirit was lifted above his present circumstances into the presence of the One who is high and lifted up.

 The Bible states it very matter-of-factly: “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” There was nothing about the circumstance that was encouraging, and if David had limited his focus to the present circumstance, he would surely have gone into a deep depression.

In times of uncertainty and upheaval, God was David’s constant. Why? Because God doesn’t change.

No matter what the circumstance, God is above it, seated upon the throne of sovereignty and holding the scepter of dominion. Through praise and worship, David changed his focus so that by the eye of faith he beheld El Shaddai—the almighty God. I can easily imagine David sitting in the ashes of what was once his home with harp in hand singing these words:

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
— Psalm 34:1-4 NKJV

Satan is quite aware of the spiritual truth concerning joy revealed in Nehemiah: “ ‘Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ ” Nehemiah 8:10 Understanding that the joy of the Lord is the strength of the believer, the devil seeks to steal your joy, thereby reducing you to weakness. The moment David began to encourage himself in the Lord and recover his joy, he placed himself on a trajectory to turn his whole situation around.

Joy is not just a preferred emotional state; it is a necessary element in attaining full recovery.

Encouraged in the Lord,