When Dark Days Confront you!

When Dark Days Confront you! by  Rev. Shine P Thomas

How do we react when the Dark Days Confronts Us?

Is there still Hope when the Future seems Dark?

God has put dreams and desires in our life. We all have goals we want to accomplish and situations we believe to turn around but so often when things are taking a long time, when the going gets tough we tend to think negatively and get discouraged. Maybe you have started good and with great enthusiasm only to realize that you are hitting a dead end. Maybe situation in your life is going from bad to worse and have reached to a point where there is no hope. Is there still hope when the future seems dark?

Today we are going to see how to handle the dark days/ discouragements and stay hopeful

Discouragement is a terrible disease and a very powerful weapon in the hand of the enemy. It is a simple English word that is made up of two words: "Dis" and "Courage," which means lack of courage. How many times has the devil made us lose courage in our lives? David got discouraged and let us see how he handled it.

Brief History

David the shepherd boy was summoned by King Saul to play the harp. King Saul was so pleased with David especially after his victory over Goliath that he honored David with a post in the army, but very soon Saul because jealous of David.

1 Samuel 18:5 

Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well.

1 Samuel 18:14-15 

14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.

Saul is so eaten up with envy and paranoia that he mistakenly thinks David is trying to steal his throne. So he tries to take David’s life on several occasions. David sensing danger eventually had to run away from King Saul.

David fled to many places but finally David and his men fled to the Philistines, the enemies of Israel thinking he will find peace there. Oh! David did a fatal mistake here. Sometimes when we go through difficulties the devil will make us think that before accepting Christ, before baptism things were fine. Maybe your people are telling you that your struggles have increased since you are in Christ. Maybe a fling or two when you backslid and went to the enemy’s camp things were going great, everything was okay. Even when David went to the enemy he found peace and relief from Saul but that does not mean that he was in God’s will.

1 Samuel 27:4 

When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. The devil does not want to bother you are on his side. See Saul did not bother him and Philistines honored and gave incentives to David. 

1 Samuel 27:6 

So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.

David went for a temporary relief, but he ended up staying there for long. For one year and four months David and his men lived in the enemy camp. David now even started to fight for the Philistines. God wanted him to fight for Israel but now he is fighting for the enemy.

David thought he found peace, security, and prosperity in the enemy camp, but it was short-lived. Soon the Philistines were preparing to battle King Saul, and David and his men had gone to join with the Philistines. In the planning meeting the Philistine commanders were unhappy with David and men fighting against Israel and they were sent back midway.

So David and his men returned thinking of taking some rest back home. They thought they were coming home to the welcome and warmth of their families, to rest and food, but instead, they saw smoke coming out of their city at a distance. Oh! In the meantime the town of Ziglag had been attacked.

1 Samuel 30:1-5 

1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured – Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.

They come home to a shocking scene of emptiness, desolation, and loss. David and his men were so overwhelmed by their sorrow that they wept until they had no more strength left to weep. Oh! What a tragedy. Can there be anything worse than this. It was a bad dark day. All they could do is weep until they had no more strength.

Perhaps you’ve had days like that, days when the sun refused to shine, days when your heart ached so violently that you were thinking why it is all happening to me? But listen, things got even worse for David!

1 Samuel 30:6a 

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. These men look around at what’s left of their homes and as the smoke rises from the ashes so does their hurt and anger. They need an outlet for their emotions and they choose to take things out on their leader.

This was one of the most difficult situations imaginable for David. Away from his real home, chased by a mentally ill king, living like a vagabond, forced to side with the enemy, his family being taken into captivity by another enemy, and now his own men speak of mutiny by making him a scapegoat for their misery and threaten to kill him.

I want you to sense the desperation of this dark chapter in David’s life. One reason I want you to sense it is to know that you are not alone when you face feelings of desperation; men in the Bible too went through such times. They went through heartbreak, loss, and defeat. This was rock bottom for David. It was the end of the rope. This was heartbreak time. David had nobody – No family to console him, no mentor in Samuel, and his associates are against him to the point they want to kill him. How would you respond in times like this?

Man’s Response In Time Dark Days/ Crisis

To see the response of man in times of crisis just look at how David and his men responded.

1 Samuel 30:4 

So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

1. People despair in the Dark Days

To despair means to lose all hope.
Some of you are in the verge of giving up, but that is not the attitude of a godly person. Jesus never gave up the cross even to the point of his death. It was after the cross that glory came for Jesus. Maybe you may not even have the strength to dry, but don’t give up, your days of glory are ahead of you.

2. People become angry and bitter in the Dark days

1 Samuel 30:6a 

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.

Maybe some of you are bitter towards someone and angry with people because they gave you false promises and betrayed you. Don’t be better, be joyful in the Lord. For God is still working even in your dark days.

3. People blame others in crisis

Who is being blamed here? David! He’s the leader. He’s the one who led them into the land of the Philistines even though it was the people’s own choice to follow him, that doesn’t count now. He is the one who provided for them and their families for more a year and the people have conveniently forgotten all favors received from David. When people are distressed and angry, it is very common to look for someone to blame. Sometimes it is the leader.

Do we respond like this in crisis? Do you blame and accuse others when you are down? When we express our anger and blame others are we better off or worse? What has been done to resolve the crisis? Nothing! The despair hasn’t helped. The anger hasn’t helped. The blaming hasn’t helped. It never does.

Suppose they had vented their anger. Suppose they had picked up stones and killed David. Would it have made a difference? Would it have brought their loved ones and their property back? No.

Here is where we see David begin to distinguish himself as being someone worthy of our attention. David like all was discouraged and angry. In desperation David cried until he had no strength but he did something that distinguishes him from others.

1 Samuel 30:6b 

NIV But David found strength in the Lord his God.

AMP  But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

You see, in a crisis, we can do all the things these people did, or we can do what David did. David encouraged himself in the Lord. Encouraged yourself in the Lord. When there is no one for you, when you are down, God can encourage you.

Ephesians 3:16 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

Ephesians 6:10 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

When things are going wrong it is easy to give up. God is waiting to strengthen you. God is waiting to encourage you. If you look to God you can find strength and support there.

How to Find Encouragement in the Lord During the Dark Days?

Finding encouragement in the Lord in times of crisis is not easy as it sounds, but it is possible. Here are some practical pointers from David’s story on how to encourage yourself in the Lord.

1. Have a heart of worship

David is well known as a man of warfare. We know of him as a boy who fought against a lion and a bear; then was his victory over Goliath. It’s an astounding victory which is on the highpoints of David’s life. The soldiers in both the Philistine army and the Israelite army view the spectacle in disbelief. A little shepherd boy with a sling and one small stone from the bed of a brook defeats the giant.

This gave him entrance and rank into Saul’s army. There he becomes so well known that they sing songs about him. But don’t miss the key of David’s life. Before anything else – David was a worshipper. David spent enough time worshipping God. Here, in our text today, David didn’t just get angry and stomp off to battle against the Amalekites to reclaim his family and property, he paused to spend time with God.

1 Samuel 30:7 

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him.

An ephod was an article of clothing used by the Jewish High Priest, also a worship object used in ancient Israelite culture.

2 Samuel 6:14

David is described as wearing an ephod when dancing in the presence of Ark of the Covenant. In the OT it was almost exclusively a priestly garment, or one used in the worship of God

Here David calls for the ephod which signifies worship. David worshipped God before he could react. Spending time with God in worship is to be our first priority if we are to stay encouraged in the midst of battles. Be whatever circumstances if you can worship God you can see God moving for you. Worship helps you to stay encouraged and prepares you to face your situations.

Can you imagine a soldier marching off to war without proper training, without having proper weaponry and ammunition? A soldier without those things is bound to fail. But a prepared soldier is a victorious soldier. Our preparation for spiritual warfare is our time spent with God! Have a heart of worship.

Do not neglect your prayer and devotion, do not neglect Sunday worship, fasting prayers. These are all means you find encouragement in the Lord.

2. Ask for Godly direction In Your Times of Dark Days

When we are broke it is natural to panic and seek directions all over, no just seek God.

After David spent time with God listen to what he did next that brought encouragement into his life. 

1 Samuel 30:7-87

Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

The priest wore the “holy vest” to symbolize the presence of God. David was symbolically going into the presence of God, and, he was asking God’s will. The point is, David was asking God what to do. He did not take any advice other than God.

First he regained his composure by worshipping God. Now he makes his plans by consulting God. Worshiping God alone is not enough, if you want to stay encouraged you need to follow God’s instructions, follow God’s commands, obey what he says.

Psalm 119:143 

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight. Your joy in times of trouble is not going to come from your circumstances; it is not going to come from your family or friends. Your joy comes only from the commands God has given you. When you do what God tells you to do, you will find joy in your discouragements.

Just two chapters before in 

1 Samuel 28 

we have another man in a tough situation like David. King Saul was getting ready to go to war and prophet Samuel who had guided him until then had recently died. Saul knew he needed advice but there was no one to go to. Do you know what Saul did? He received advice by consulting with a psychic witch.

1 Samuel 28:5-8 

5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7 Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.” “There is one in Endor,” they said. 8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”

In desperation Saul goes to the wrong place for advice. The wrong spirit advised Saul to go in for battle with the Philistines. Satan deceived Saul into the battle; as a result Saul and his 3 sons were killed.

It really matters where you take your advice from when you are discouraged. There are only two types of advice you can get: godly advice and ungodly advice. 

Psalm 1:1 

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

Remember, the right advice will build you, wrong advice will break you. Opt for godly advice. Ungodly advice will only mess up your thinking and eventually lead to more misery. If you want to encourage yourself in God, seek Godly direction.

3. Treat people Fairly

A lot of times when our life gets tough we are tempted to do what David’s troops did. We are tempted to take our frustrations on someone else. I have seen many people do this, when they are hurt they hurt someone else. Treat others fairly when you are hurt.

Understand every crisis is just temporary. So, it is not worth to behave badly toward anyone when you are hurt and lose Godly people in your life. So do yourself a favor, when troubles come be aware of your self and behave yourself.

Listen, David was aware of this principle. When David finally left to hunt down the Amalekites that had taken his family, 200 men in his army of 600 were so tired and discouraged that they did not go with David. So he let them rest. David did not badmouth them, he did not curse them, he did not belittle them. Listen, with the 400 men David pursued the Amalekites and recovered everything they had taken. When David returned with the plunder of the battle he even gave the 200 people who rested an even portion with the 400 who fought the battle. David treated people fairly.

Dark days can be real tests of your behavior. And if you want to encourage yourself in God you need to act like God would act, express kindness toward others. Love them in spite of their failures. Don’t take your anger and frustration out on them. Treat people fairly.

Do not Give Up even in Your Dark Days

David encouraged himself in the Lord and God gave David the victory. Then David went on to become the second king of Israel. David could have given it up all at Zigzag. If David had given up, he would probably have not become the king of Israel ever. Many times we miss on God’s best because we give up too soon, we get discouraged and say it is all over. Well, Do not give up in your dark days, for You are closer than you think to your victory.

Psalm 30:5 

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Some of you are on the verge of God’s best but in order for that you need to encourage yourself in the Lord. Just another few days of believing, doing the right thing, and waiting on the Lord, you are going to reach your destiny. Stay encouraged in the Lord because the keeper of Israel will neither sleep nor slumber until he fulfils what he has promised. Amen.

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