Handling Life During Difficult Times 1 — Going To God
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
How do we handle our lives during difficult times? Each of us have our own stories. And I believe we’ve all had times when we regretted how we responded to those situations, knowing we could have done better.
Isn’t it great we can learn from the Bible how godly people managed their situations? Studying the book of Psalms helps us understand their struggles, thoughts and feelings. We will realise how similar our struggles are to theirs. They were not superheroes, but normal human beings like us, with various struggles. David wrote 66 psalms, and they give us insights into his thoughts and struggles.
That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances: “‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?” David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:10-15 NIV)
Before going into this part of David’s life, let’s recall what happened prior to this event.
David killed Goliath, the Philistine giant. He was very successful in all his battles and Saul gave him a high rank in his army. The people loved David and composed a song to praise him, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”.
Saul’s pride was hurt by this comparison and he feared losing his kingdom to David. So he tried to kill David, but David escaped beyond Israel’s borders into the Philistines’ city, Gath. David had killed Gath's mightiest warrior, Goliath, and led Israel’s army to defeat the Philistines many times. Why would he escape to a place where he must be really hated?
David’s desperation must have confused him to think that he had better chances of survival in Gath. But David was captured. The once mighty officer who won many battles against the Philistines walked right into the hands of his enemies. In order to escape, he had to feign madness. This was such a big turn in fortune for David. He lost all his pride and esteem, and nearly lost his life.
Have we had bad turns in fortune before? We may see that happen to others around us, or we may even have experienced that ourselves. How did we respond?
David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father's household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” (1 Samuel 22:1-3 NIV)
After David left Gath, he went to the cave of Adullam, which was near the borders of Philistine and Israel. Scholars believe David could have been there alone, for about three to six months before his family joined him. After that, 400 men (not including women and children) who were in “bad shape” joined him too. After that, in 1 Samuel 23:1-2, David led these men to fight the Philistines and rescue the town of Keilah.
David would not have imagined, after his phenomenal rise, to fall so badly. And he would not have imagined that people would seek his leadership, and he’ll lead them to fight for his people again. Rescuing Keilah from the Philistines meant that his hideout would be exposed. But David had found his purpose again — to have the heart of a real king and protect his people.
How did David pull through this difficult part of his life? Understanding the above context, we will study the psalms David wrote when he was in the cave of Adullam.
We can see David’s progress in his understanding of his life, purpose, God’s love, God’s calling and his decision to answer the call.
We are mostly interested in the fact that David got out of his trouble, but it is important for us to learn how he handled his life when it was toughest. We will all get into difficult times and eventually get out of them, but how do we manage our life during those times? We are not alone as we face our pains and shattered dreams, for God is with us. God’s words, found in these psalms, will encourage us.
David Poured Out His Feelings to God Freely
I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. (Psalm 142:1-2 NIV)
What was David doing when he was all alone in the cave? He was crying to God, begging God for mercy, pouring out complaints and confiding his troubles to God.
David went through an emotional roller coaster, and he intentionally wrote down his emotions. Haven’t we gone through similar emotions before? We cry, we seek mercy, we complain and we seek people whom we can confide in. Do we have trusted friends we can lean on during difficult times?
And are we able to do the same with God? David’s relationship with God was so real. He related to God as a close friend. Can we fully open up our emotions to God with complete trust and vulnerability? Are we able to have the same closeness in our relationship with God? Reflect on your feelings and share them with God in prayer. He wants us to confide in Him.
When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:3-5)
David was discouraged, and he was constantly wary, afraid of being caught by Saul, the Philistines or some other people. He felt that no one was concerned for him or cared about his life. But in truth, there were people who cared for him; his family searched for him and found him. And a big group of people who were in trouble respected him, believed him, and sought his leadership.
How did they find David when he was hiding alone in a cave, out of so many in Israel? God must have brought them to David.
Whenever we are down, it is normal to get into self-pity mode. We feel discouraged, become afraid of many things, feel alone, and think that no one cares. But people do care. The question is, do we allow them into our cave, and let them shine light into our darkness?
God will bring people who love us and believe in us to encourage us. And God loves and believes in us too.
Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. (Psalm 142:6-7 NIV)
What was David’s desperate need? He was pursued by Saul and his army, and they were “too strong” for him. He felt trapped in his “prison”, the cave. The 400 men came to him, answering David’s request to God, “the righteous will gather about me”.
Note that this psalm did not end with proclamations of victory. He was still crying, but in a much better state of mind. His open and sincere prayer to God helped him cope with his difficulties and pain.
When we face difficult times, we should go to God and pour out our feelings to Him freely. God wants to hear us and He will answer us.
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Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.